Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared on Sunday that a Chinese military base on the Solomon Islands would be an unacceptable “red line,” without adding how Canberra would retaliate. Morrison’s government and the United States are scrambling to respond to a recently-signed security deal between the islands and Beijing, which they consider an “aggressive” move.
“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.”
A tiny archipelago sitting around 2,000km off the northeastern coast of Australia, the Solomon Islands made international news last week when it signed a security pact with China. With the island nation reeling from violent protests last year, the deal – according to a leaked draft of the agreement – promises Chinese assistance in “maintaining social order” and allows China’s warships to dock at its ports.
Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare insists that the deal was necessary to beef up security and was “guided by our national interests.” He stated last week that the agreement does not allow China to set up a military base on the islands, something that Beijing has also stressed.