Foreign base would make Solomon Islands military target: PM
Solomon Islands Prime Minister Sogavare assures Australia and the United States once again that his country would not host a Chinese military base.
The Solomon Islands will not host a foreign military base as this would render it a target for military strikes, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare said Thursday as tensions soar in the region, with Australia eyeing China over its growing influence there.
Sogavare is attending the Pacific Islands Forum summit, the first time that the bloc comes together since Honiara signed a security pact with Beijing.
Australia claims there is fear that the pact, whose details have not been made public, could be a step toward a Chinese military presence less than 2,000 km away.
The US, UK, and Australia had formed their AUKUS alliance despite mounting concerns from China. The alliance was based on enhancing Australia's nuclear capabilities through advanced technology and nuclear submarines in order to increase the alliance's strength in the South Pacific as China grows more influential in the region.
The establishment of a foreign military base in the Solomon Islands would turn the country into "an enemy" of the Pacific, Sogavare told broadcaster RNZ Pacific.
A base would "also put our country and our people as targets for potential military strikes and Solomon Islands government will never allow our country and people to become military targets," he added.
The premier also assured Canberra on the matter during a meeting with his Australian counterpart, the first since the latter took office.
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin said in late April that statements about an alleged desire by China to build a military base on the Solomon Islands under the newly signed security agreement were "nothing but disinformation".
Regional security and the tensions between the United States and China in the Asia Pacific have largely been discussed during the meeting, with Washington knocking down doors into the region by pumping heaps of money and building new embassies.
Solomon Islands PM Manasseh Sogavare had termed late in March international criticism of the country's security discussions with China "insulting" and those who leaked the draft security deal "lunatics".