One Pacific leader has spoken out against the proposed security deal between Solomon Islands and the People’s Republic of China.
President David W. Panuelo of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) wrote to Solomon Islands Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare Wednesday to plead with him to deeply consider the long-term security consequences for the Pacific region, if China is allowed to set up military presence in Solomon Islands.
He’s worried the Pacific will become the ‘epicentre of future confrontation between these major powers’ if countries like Solomon Islands establish security arrangements with these powerful nations.
“It’s not an impossible fear; it has happened before. Both the Federated States of Micronesia and Solomon Islands were the battlegrounds during World War II. I am confident that neither of us wishes to see a conflict of that scope or scale ever again, and most particularly in our own backyards, and most especially as we can see—from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine—that the bigger countries will choose violence if they think it serves their interests, and without regard necessarily to our interests, such as our interest to not become collateral damage, warned President Panuelo in his letter circulated by his Office.
President Panuelo pleaded with Sogavare to consult and ‘reach out to me and the Pacific Islands Forum’ to discuss the impact this decision will have on the Blue Pacific, the region’s common home.’
“I ask you, Prime Minister: is it within the realm of plausibility that, as more Pacific Islands seek security arrangements with larger countries, that we could see a sovereign and peaceful Pacific become fragmented, and become tools for these larger countries’ spheres of power and influence?
“And is it plausible that, once the spheres have been carved out, that our concerns about Climate Change—today’s problem—would manifest into all-too-real concerns about a war in our backyards,
with our people, our islands, as the playground for children playing as adults? Isn’t it plausible that our islands could become collateral damage once again, such as we saw occur in Guadalcanal in your
country, and Chuuk in my country, during World War I, President Panuelo raised in his appeal letter.
The outspoken FSM leader expressed his nation’s grave security concerns about this proposed agreement because the agreement is entirely novel and unprecedented.
“Before you sign such an agreement, I would like to describe to you our own relationship with China, and what I fear the larger countries are privately preparing for.
“The Federated States of Micronesia has had diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China since 11 September, 1989. The relationship the FSM-China is described as the ‘Great Friendship.’
“We have no loans with China, only grants; and the Chinese do not ask us to take loans. China always offers development assistance, but never insists on what development assistance might look like; when we ask for a ship, like the Hapilmohol-2, we get a ship, and when we ask for a Government Complex, like the Chuuk State Government’s campus, we get a Government Complex.
“The economic and technical cooperation with China has been beneficial for our country and our People, and I am sure Solomon Islands is benefiting from a similar experience. the People & Government of China are a friend to the People & Government of the Federated States of Micronesia.
The FSM leader reminded his Solomon Islands counterpart that the U.S and China are increasingly at odds with each other – and this impacts FSM’s relations with both countries.
“Our ideal scenario in the Federated States of Micronesia is that China and the U.S, as well as Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and so many others, become friends with one another. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they could look past their fears and grievances and embrace each other as friends?
“Wouldn’t it be terrific if they could see that the troubles of our times, such as Climate Change, require all of them working in concert instead of against each other, said President Panuelo.
There hasn’t been any response from Honiara to President Panuelo’s letter.