Australian PM fending off opposition criticism for not tanking recently-signed Solomon Islands’ security deal with China
Scott Morrison, Australian Prime Minster, stated Wednesday that because the Solomon Islands is sovereign, it would not have made a mistake if it tried to block China from signing a security deal with them. He was responding to opposition criticism of his government’s failure to stop the deal, which was described as a “massive foreign policy failure”It is its responsibility.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese and the opposition party’s foreign affairs spokesperson, Senator Penny Wong, lashed out at the government over the controversial deal during an election campaign event in Queensland state on Wednesday.
“Australia needs to do more than step up with the slogan in the Pacific, it needs to step up with real engagement, deep engagement, with our Pacific island neighbors,”Albanese stated.
Morrison defended his government’s actions, saying his government respected the sovereignty of Honiara. He said that Australia treated the Solomon Islands people as children, not siblings.
“Our view is very much that we don’t go stomping around telling leaders in [the] Pacific islands what they should and shouldn’t do. You work with them respectfully and carefully,”He stated.
Further, the PM defended his decision last week to send Zed Seselja (Pacific Minister) to China in an attempt to stop this agreement being signed. Opposition claimed that he should have sent Marise Paayne, Foreign Minister, instead. Morrison claimed that Australia should have “calibrate”When dealing with sensitive subjects, its diplomatic approach.
US, its Pacific Allies including Australia were concerned about the security agreement between China and Solomon Islands. Beijing confirmed its signing on Tuesday, but, per its usual policy, didn’t publish the text of the agreement.
The text, purportedly a draft of it, was leaked. It contained provisions for China’s military ships to dock at the islands and to employ its police forces. “to assist in maintaining social order”Honiara
Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare told his nation’s parliament on Wednesday that his government signed the deal “with our eyes open, guided by our national interests.” He touted Chinese aid in strengthening the Islands’ police force as one of the benefits of the pact.
Ned Price of the US State Department stated Monday that the agreement would destabilize Solomon Islands and set an example. “concerning precedent”The entire Pacific region. Washington this week sent two top officials from the Pacific Affairs and Security Department to Honiara.
The foreign security agreement was an issue in Australia’s election. The Labor and PM Morrison’s Liberal-National Coalition run nose-to-nose for the majority, with the opposition gaining traction in the past several weeks. The Federal Election is set for May 21.
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