Australia’s deputy PM warns Solomon Islands against China security pact

Australia’s deputy PM warns Solomon Islands against China security pact

Deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce warned the Solomon Islands it has put its sovereignty at risk by signing a security agreement with China.

Mr Joyce said he had taken the Solomon Islands' word that it would not allow China to establish a naval base on the island, but that would be an intimidating tactic for Australia.

There is no doubt about that because we see what they did in the South China Sea where they said they weren't going to militarise, he said.

I take their word, but I say be careful to invite a totalitarian power into your country because it's going to affect your sovereignty. Mr Joyce defended the Prime Minister and the government's attempts to engage with the Solomon Islands leadership before the deal was signed.

He would not say how Australia would respond if China were to build a military base because the country had said it would not happen.

When asked what a re-elected Liberal and Nationals Coalition would do to prevent China from encroaching further into the pacific, the Deputy Prime Minister pointed out projects such as the nuclear submarine deal, the Quad alliance between Australia, India, Japan and the US as examples of things the government was doing to prevent that.

The deal has been subject to continued criticism from the opposition, with Labor arguing that the Coalition should have done more to prevent it, including sending Foreign Minister Marise Payne to Solomon Islands when concerns about the pact first emerged last year.

Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers said the deal was a failure by the government that has made Australia and the region less safe.

The fact that they have failed so substantially here is a direct risk to our national security, he said.

If elected, Labor would attempt to rebuild the relationship with Solomon Islands and possibly increase foreign aid spending in the Pacific, according to Chalmers.

The Shadow Treasurer said yesterday that he believed that cuts to foreign aid by the government were partly to blame for the controversial deal going ahead, as well as being a credible partner on climate change, having a credible climate change policy, and having more to say about that during the course of the election.

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