No China base on Solomon Islands: Australian PM
Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who was chastised for not preventing the China-Solomon Islands agreement, vows to prevent any Chinese military facilities on the Solomon Islands.
During a tense pre-election debate on Sunday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison promised that Australia would cooperate with its friends to prevent China from establishing a military facility in the Solomon Islands.
Following Beijing's declaration last month that it had inked a security pact with the Solomon Islands, China's expanding weight in the Pacific has become a hot political topic in Australia ahead of the May 21 elections.
Although the China-Solomon Islands agreement has not been made public, a leaked document has alarmed some governments in the region, notably passages that allegedly authorize Chinese naval deployments to the Solomons, which are less than 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) from Australia.
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin said on April 25 that statements about an alleged desire by China to build a military base on the Solomon Islands under the newly signed security agreement are "nothing but disinformation".
Morrison, whose conservative administration is polling below the opposition in recent opinion polls, has been chastised for failing to prevent China from signing the agreement in an area where Australia has long had sway.
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Opposition Labor Party leader Anthony Albanese described it in the televised debate as a "massive foreign policy failure".
Establishing a Chinese military installation in the Solomon Islands, according to the prime minister, would be crossing a "red line."
Pressed during the debate on what that red line means, Morrison said: "Australia would work with partners to ensure that that type of an outcome would be prevented."
Morrison noted, though, that speculation about specific measures Australia would take to prevent a military installation from being built on the Solomon Islands would be "unwise."
"The Solomon Islands government themselves have made it very clear to us that that is not an outcome that they are seeking or supporting either. I believe it is not in their national interest to have such a presence," he said.