The security pact Solomon Islands and China signed following the 2021 November riot in Honiara is now a non-issue, according to Albert Kabui, the Special Secretary to Prime Minister (SSPM).
The United States, Australia and other Western allies say the pact allows China to build naval bases in Solomon Islands and are demanding a full disclosure from Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare on the matter.
But Special Secretary Kabui told a news conference in Honiara on Friday that the security pact is no longer an issue between Solomon Islands and the United States.
“It is now a non-issue,” Kabui told journalists.
“The Prime Minister has consistently made it clear to the Americans in particular in Honiara and in Washington DC that the security pact is no different from other security arrangements Solomon Islands has signed with others, including Australia.
“I think the Americans in particular have now understood our position on the matter. As such, it is now a non-issue,” Kabui said.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Colin Beck earlier told the news conference that some had the mistaken notion that because we are friends, that automatically translate into their enemies being our enemies as well.
That should not be case, he said.
Beck said Solomon Islands’ diplomatic switch to China is about economic development rather than creating military foes.
“And as we have witnessed, there is a marked transformation in our infrastructure landscape since China set foot here three years ago,” he said.
It is estimated that China has invested billions of dollars in infrastructure and economic development both in Honiara and in Provinces other than Malaita. That may change following the change of government in the Malaita Provincial Assembly last February.
In Honiara, the nation’s national stadium is 80 percent complete and is expected to be officially handed over in September in time for the 2023 Pacific Games which is due to open in November this year.
SOURCE: SOLOMON STAR/PACNEWS