March 28, 2022
China Solomons move sparks Pacific alarm
Minister for Pacific Peoples and Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs, Aupito William Sio, is alarmed at the prospect of Chinese warships being based in the South Pacific.
A leaked draft shows China is asking the Solomon Islands to agree to its ships making stopovers at the island nation, as well as allowing deployments of its police, military personnel and other law enforcement and armed forces.
Mr Sio says he can’t see any security benefits from such a deal which can’t be provided by New Zealand, Australia and the Solomon’s other regional friends.
He spoke with leaders from around the Pacific over the weekend and rejects criticism from academics that New Zealand and Australia should have done more to help the Solomon Islands.
“These are sovereign nations and there is a responsibility on these sovereign nations to do the right thing not only for their people but for the region as a whole and to be able to do that they have got to be transparent and the locals have got to be given the opportunity to articulate their opposition, to articulate their points of view on it,” he says.
Minister Sio noted Solomon Islands Opposition leader, Matthew Wale, said at the weekend that a security deal with China would not be in his country’s national interest.