Solomon Islands PM ‘clear’ no Chinese military base in talks with Australian intelligence


-Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton says he does not expect the Solomon Islands will allow China to establish a military base in the Pacific nation.

However Australia remains concerned about the growing militarisation of the region.

Foreign affairs officials found out about a security pact between China and the Solomon Islands when a draft was leaked on social media.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has asked for a copy of the agreement, which had been “initialled” two weeks ago.

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has since met two of Australia’s top intelligence officials in the capital, Honiara.

Sogavare said his country was seeking to broaden its security partnerships.

Dutton says the government is taking an interest in developments.

“The Solomon Islands has been very clear they won’t allow a military base there,” he told Nine on Sunday.

“But we are concerned that was essentially the same commitment given by President Xi to President Obama in the South China Sea and we now have 20 points of military presence by the Chinese in the South China Sea.”

When he was asked of the prospects of conflict in the region, Dutton said: “I think there is a likelihood.”

“We need to be realistic about the threats in our own region and that is why Australia is standing with our allies,” he said.

“We can’t take for granted the democracy we’ve got, our freedom of speech, our adherence to the rule of law and the principles that have stood us well over decades. We need to stand up to bullies and we are doing that,” he said.