The US’ warning against permanent “China military presence” in the Solomon Islands was a serious provocation to both China and the South Pacific nation, Chinese analysts said on Saturday.
The United States on Friday raised “significant concerns” about the security pact signed between the Solomon Islands and China and warned that should Beijing maintain any military presence there, the US would “respond accordingly”.
On April 22, a high-level US delegation visited Honiara, Solomon Islands and met for 90 minutes with Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, along with two dozen members of his cabinet and senior staff.
In the meeting with Solomon Islands’ Prime Minister Sogavare, the US delegation reiterated the key priorities animating the trip and also outlined steps Washington would take to advance the welfare of the people of Solomon Islands.
Outlining areas of concern with respect to the purpose, scope, and transparency of the agreement, the US delegation said, “If steps are taken to establish a de facto permanent military presence, power-projection capabilities, or a military installation, the delegation noted that the US would then have significant concerns and respond accordingly.”
“The US is attaching greater strategic importance to South Pacific nations amid China-US competition, and the region is not only a significant part of the US’ Indo-Pacific Strategy but also serves as a key anti-China frontline after the US loses its “first island chain,” Chinese analysts was quoted as saying by state media outlet Global Times.
This visit of US officials to the Solomon Islands was the final leg of the delegation’s trip across the Pacific. This came only a few days after the signing of the security pact between China and the Pacific island nation.
“The US respects the right of nations to make sovereign decisions in the best interests of their people. The two sides engaged in substantial discussion around the recently signed security agreement between the Solomon Islands and the People’s Republic of China (PRC),” the White House statement read.
Solomon Islands representatives indicated that the agreement had solely domestic applications, but the US delegation noted there are potential regional security implications of the accord, including for the United States and its allies and partners, the statement added.
Earlier, China had said the security deal would involve cooperating with Honiara on maintaining social order, aid, combating natural disasters and helping safeguard national security.
It added the agreement “does not target any third party.”