Morrison: Chinese military base on Solomon Islands 'red line'
Why is the Solomon Islands considered "Australia's backyard"?
Scott Morrison, Australia's Prime Minister, declared Sunday that for China to build a military base on the Solomon Islands is a "red line". He gave no detail away on how Australia would retaliate if Beijing were to build a base.
Both Washington and Canberra have been frantic about the Islands since Beijing and the Solomon Islands signed a security deal. The two, who've recently formed the nuclear-motivated AUKUS pact, deem the security deal "aggressive".
“Working together with our partners in New Zealand and of course the United States, I share the same red line that the United States has when it comes to these issues,” Morrison said. “We won’t be having Chinese military naval bases in our region on our doorstep.”
The Solomon Islands, situated about 2,000 km away from Australia, made international news last week when it signed a security treaty with China. A draft of the agreement was leaked recently, and it included Chinese promises of assistance in "maintaining social order." The agreement also allows Beijing to dock warships in the island's ports. Last year, the Islands experienced violent protests.
Manasseh Sogavare, the Island's Prime Minister, contends that the deal was necessary for the security of the country as it was guided by the island's "national interests". He also stressed that the agreement does not allow China to establish military bases on the islands, which is something Beijing also stressed.
On Sunday, Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton said that “the reality is that China has changed. China’s incredibly aggressive, the acts of foreign interference, the preparedness to pay bribes to get an outcome... that’s the reality of modern China."
On Friday, the White House warned that “if steps are taken [by China] to establish a de facto permanent military presence, power-projection capabilities, or a military installation… the United States would then have significant concerns and respond accordingly.”
The White House also announced that the US and Solomon Islands agreed to launch a high-level strategic dialogue that will be co-chaired on the US side by the White House and the US Department of State.