The Solomon Islands government has confirmed the armed personnel requested by China to provide security at the Chinese Embassy in Honiara never entered the country.
“I can use this occasion to say, no, we don’t have any embassy security personnel. None had actually entered the country.
“We also want to say that no arms have been shipped other than the training replica arms that are stored by the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force,” Permanent Secretary of Foreign Affairs Collin Beck told journalists in Honiara.
Beck and his colleague permanent secretary of Police Karen Galokale were in the spotlight following leaked documents on the issue. The documents showed the People’s Republic of China (PCR) had requested the government to allow 10 security personnel with light arms to be stationed at the embassy as security guards and assist with escorts.
Beck in a letter to Galokale on 09 December approved the request for the personnel to enter but asked her ministry to consider the request of light weapons. The correspondence which went viral on social media had attracted widespread criticism on Beck and Galokale.
Beck told the media the Chinese had never entered and no weapons had been shipped into the country.
He, however, confirmed “we have Chinese liaison officers who are actually conducting training wit the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force.”
Chief of Staff in the Office of the Prime Minister Robson Djokovic said the improved security on the ground provided by the regional forces after the riots had resulted in them aborting the plan.
According to Beck, the request was made by China straight after the November riots during when the city was burnt, lives were lost and many business people in Chinatown were homeless.
“Police was stressed during that time we were not in a position to guarantee safety and security of the diplomats –in particular PRC. If you look at the event, the Chinese faced the brunt of the riot,” Beck said.
He further explained, as a state: “We have an obligation to look after sending states diplomats’ including China.
Beck said under Vienna convention— article 22— it is standard protocol to request for own diplomatic personnel to protect their diplomats.
“You must remember that every embassy/high commission in this country is a foreign territory. Once they see gaps then they can request to have their own security,” said Beck.