The Solomon Islands, China and Australia.
Senator the Hon Zed Seselja is the Australian Minister for the Pacific.
On 13 April 2022, the Minister for the Pacific, met with the Solomon Islands Prime Minister Sogavare, the Deputy Prime Minister and a number of other ministers.
Part of the released statement included:
Solomon Islands is a valued member of our Pacific family, and Australia respects Solomon Islands right to make sovereign decisions about its national security.
We have asked Solomon Islands respectfully to consider not signing the agreement and to consult the Pacific family in the spirit of regional openness and transparency, consistent with our region’s security frameworks.
We welcome recent statements from Prime Minister Sogavare that Australia remains Solomon Islands security partner of choice, and his commitment that Solomon Islands will never be used for military bases or other military institutions of foreign powers.
A statement by Shadow Foreign Minister, Penny Wong on 25 March 2022:
Labor respects the right of the people and the Government of the Solomons to make sovereign decisions about its security.
Australia should be the partner of choice for our Pacific partners to address shared challenges.
Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare told the country’s parliament that the agreement, centred around domestic security, was guided by the country’s national interest.
Shadow Foreign Minister, Penny Wong says the signing of a Sino-Solomons security pact is a major foreign policy failure. She also questioned why the government sent Pacific Minister Zed Seselja, referring to him as a junior woodchuck, instead of Foreign Minister Marise Payne, to meet the Solomon Islands Prime Minister.
Labor has branded the Sino-Solomon security pact the worst foreign policy failure since World War II.
Scott Morrison said “One of the things you don’t do in the Pacific is you don’t throw your weight around. They’re a sovereign country and we have to respect their sovereignty.”
“Our view is we don’t go around stomping around telling leaders in Pacific islands what they should and shouldn’t do. You work with them respectfully and carefully.”
Should Scott Morrison have attempted to force the Solomon Islands to do as Australia says?
Should Scott Morrison have sent someone higher than the ‘Minister for the Pacific‘ to the Solomon Islands (in the Pacific), to show how forceful Australia can be.
Especially after this statement from the Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare: “We find it very insulting to be branded as unfit to manage our sovereign affairs, or have other motives in pursuing our national interests.”
Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare appears to be comfortable with Chinese police officers, or potentially even military forces, entering his country to guard key infrastructure projects built by China.
Would the people of the Solomon Islands be as comfortable with Australian troops protecting Chinese people and property in their Islands, from the Solomon Islanders themselves?
In November 2021, protesters in the Solomon Islands demanded that Prime Minister Sogavare resign over his move to establish formal ties with China, and the cutting of ties with Taiwan. These protests resulted in rioting, and violence, with Chinese owned businesses burned to the ground.
Resentment against Chinese business people is longstanding on the Solomons and resulted in much of Honiara’s Chinatown being burned in 2006, and again in 2021.