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Saturday, June 3, 2023

US threatens Solomon Islands with military action over security deal with China

The US has threatened the Solomon Islands with military action after the latter recently signed a security deal with China.

According to a report by The Guardian:

One of the most senior US officials in the Pacific has refused to rule out military action against the Solomon Islands if it were to allow China to establish a military base there, saying that the security deal between the countries presented “potential regional security implications” for the US and other allies.

Ambassador Daniel Kritenbrink, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, was part of a high-level US delegation to the Pacific country last week.

He said the US team, which also included the National Security Council coordinator for Indo-Pacific affairs, Kurt Campbell, had a 90-minute “constructive and candid” meeting with prime minister Manasseh Sogavare in which the US team detailed concerns about its recently signed security deal with China.

“We wanted to outline for our friends in the Solomons, what our concerns are,” said Kritenbrink. “Prime minister Sogavare indicated that in the Solomon Islands’ view, the agreement they’ve concluded has solely domestic implications. But we’ve made clear that there are potential regional security implications of the agreement not just for ourselves, but for allies and partners across the region.”…

…In a statement last week, the Biden administration said the US would “respond accordingly” if China was allowed to establish a long-term presence on the islands while noting assurances from Sogavare that he had no intention of allowing a military base…

…Kritenbrink also noted China’s military ambitions, saying: “I think it’s important in this context, to keep in mind that we do know that the PRC [People’s Republic of China] is seeking to establish a more robust overseas logistics and basic infrastructure that would allow the PLA [People’s Liberation Army] to project and sustain military power at greater distances. So we wanted to have that candid conversation with our friends in the Solomons. We outlined our concerns … and we’ve indicated that we’ll continue to monitor the situation closely and continue to engage with them going forward.”

The details of the deal between China and the Solomon Islands are reportedly a secret. MPs from the Island have asked the country’s Prime Minister to make the deal public. However, a draft of the deal leaked on social media last month revealed provisions that allowed China to “make ship visits to, carry out logistical replenishment in, and have stopover and transition in the Solomon Islands”.

(Featured Image Souce: The Guardian)

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