A leaked document has revealed that China and the Solomon Islands are close to signing a security agreement that could open the door to Chinese troops and naval warships flowing into a Pacific Island nation that played a pivotal role in World War II.
The agreement, kept secret until now, was shared online Thursday night by opponents of the deal and verified as legitimate by the Australian government. Though it is marked as a draft and cites a need for “social order” as a justification for sending Chinese forces, it has set off alarms throughout the Pacific, where concerns about China’s intentions have been growing for years.
“This is deeply problematic for the United States and a real cause of concern for our allies and partners,” Charles Edel, the inaugural Australia chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said on Friday.
“The establishment of a base in the Solomon Islands by a strategic adversary would significantly degrade Australia and New Zealand’s security, increase the chances of local corruption and heighten the chances of resource exploitation.”
It is not clear which side initiated the agreement, but if signed, the deal would give Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare of the Solomon Islands the ability to call on China for protection of his own government while granting China a base of operations between the United States and Australia that could be used to block shipping traffic across the South Pacific.