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Pacific News Minute

Pacific News Minute: Solomon Islands says it won’t allow China to build a military base

China Solomon Islands Security
Charley Piringi/AP
The Chinese national flag flies outside the Chinese Embassy in Honiara, Solomon Islands, Friday, April 1, 2022. Seeking to counter international fears over its new security alliance with China, the Solomon Islands said it won't allow China to build a military base there. (AP Photo/Charley Piringi)

Solomon Islands officials say they won’t allow China to build a military base in their country as part of their new security alliance. But that hasn’t convinced the leader of another South Pacific nation, who worries the region could become a battleground for major world powers.

The Solomon Islands government says that a draft agreement of the new security pact had been initialed by representatives from China and is ready to be signed.

The Associated Press reports that Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare had earlier told parliament he had no intention of asking China to build a base.

But his statement hasn’t eased worries about the pact from the nation’s traditional partners that include New Zealand, Australia and the United States.

The leader of Micronesia wrote a letter to Sogavare saying he had “grave security concerns” about the arrangement.

President David Panuelo says the two small nations had become battlegrounds during World War II. He says that it could happen again as China, the U.S. and Australia build up their presence in the region.

Under the terms of the draft agreement, China could send police, military personnel and other armed forces to the Solomon Islands “to assist in maintaining social order.”

It could also send warships to the islands for stopovers and for supplies, which had led to speculation about China building a naval base there.

Chinese police are already in the islands conducting a training mission.

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