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China and Solomon Islands sign security pact, riling Australia and allies

A Guardian-class patrol vessel that is in service with the Solomon Islands' police force. The vessel has been donated by Australia, which has tried to dissuade the Solomon Islands from signing a security pact with China. (Chris Gee)

China has signed a security co-operation agreement with the Solomon Islands, which paves the way for Beijing to deploy its troops and military assets in the South Pacific.

The signing was confirmed by Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin at a press conference on 19 April. The agreement was signed by China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi and the Solomon Islands' Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade Jeremiah Manele, Wang added.

The pact has been referred to as an “inter-governmental framework agreement on security co-operation” but Wang stopped short of revealing when it was formally sealed.

As part of the agreement, China and the Solomon Islands will co-operate in areas such as “maintenance of social order, protection of the safety of people's lives and property, humanitarian assistance, and natural disaster response”, said Wang.

Beijing will also assist Honiara in the area of capacity building “in safeguarding its own security”, said Wang, who did not give further details on this, adding only that the pact is “open, transparent, and inclusive, and does not target any third party”.

“It proceeds in parallel and complements [the] Solomon Islands' existing bilateral and multilateral security co-operation mechanisms. China stands ready to work with relevant countries to leverage respective strengths to form international synergy,” he added.

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