There is no intention to build a military base in the Solomon Islands and suggestions about China building one is nothing but speculation designed to harm diplomatic ties China wishes to have with the Pacific, said China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
Mr Wang addressed a press conference in the Solomon Islands after his meeting with local government officials. This was the first stopover for Mr Wang as he attempts to visit eight nations within eight days.
He arrived into the Solomon Islands on Thursday morning and spent time meeting with the Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare.
This was followed by a meeting with Solomon Islands Foreign Minister Jeremiah Manele where agreements were signed between the two nations.
Even before the Chinese delegation had arrived, the Solomon Islands government through a statement had outlined the ten key agreements that would be signed.
“It is not imposed on anyone, nor is it targeted at any third party. There is no intention at all to establish a military base,” Mr Wang said in the press conference.
“China’s cooperation with Pacific Island countries does not target any country and should not be interfered or disrupted by any other country.”
Mr Wang used the opportunity to take a swipe at Australia’s previous government who had called the Pacific their backyard.
“They are not the backyard of anyone. All the Pacific Island countries are entitled to make their own choice instead of being just mere followers of others,” he said.
“Any smears and attacks on the normal security cooperation between China and Solomon Islands are not above the board and any such disruption will not get anywhere.”
If anything, Mr Wang’s visit was very diplomatic and there was no hint of coercion. He said China respected existing international relationships with Pacific island countries and would explore joining three-way partnerships with them.
Perhaps this is something United States, Australia, New Zealand and Japan will have to look into.
He said the security deal helped the Solomon Islands government to safeguard stability and long term security.
Prior to Mr Wang’s arrival, the Solomon Islands Police Force were undergoing training by Chinese police experts.
He said the deal had to do more with capacity building, and that it allowed the Solomon Islands to request for security assistance during times of instability. He said this has to be requested.