Solomon Islands PM Manasseh Sogavare blasts Australia over criticism of China security deal

Home Politics Solomon Islands PM Manasseh Sogavare blasts Australia over criticism of China security deal
Solomon Islands PM Manasseh Sogavare blasts Australia over criticism of China security deal

The Solomon Islands Prime Minister has delivered a withering verbal assault on Australia, mocking the federal government’s complaints about the secrecy surrounding the Pacific Island country’s security pact with China

Manasseh Sogavare has also stoked fresh anger in Canberra by again alleging that Australian personnel refused to protect Chinese-built infrastructure during riots in Honiara last year — an allegation which Australian officials furiously deny.

The extraordinary remarks highlight how the relationship between Mr Sogavare and top politicians and officials in Canberra is starting to disintegrate, despite public declarations from both countries that bilateral ties have not been permanently damaged by the security pact.

Australia unsuccessfully pressed Mr Sogavare to ditch the agreement with China. And it has since criticised the lack of transparency around the negotiations.

China's ambassador to Solomon Islands Li Ming (left) and Solomon Islands diplomat Colin Beck hold copies of the treaty.
China’s ambassador to Solomon Islands Li Ming (left) and Solomon Islands diplomat Colin Beck signed the security treaty between the two countries.(Supplied: Chinese Embassy Solomon Islands)

Neither China nor Solomon Islands have yet agreed to make the final text they signed public.

But in a lengthy and often furious address to parliament, Mr Sogavare suggested Australia was being hypocritical because it kept its negotiations with the United States and the United Kingdom over the AUKUS pact top secret.

“I learnt of the AUKUS treaty in the media, Mr Speaker,” he said in parliament.

“One would expect that as a member of the Pacific family, Solomon Islands and members of the Pacific should have been consulted to ensure this AUKUS treaty is transparent since it will affect the Pacific family by allowing nuclear submarines in Pacific waters.”

He also mocked the language adopted by Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Foreign Minister Marise Payne, who have repeatedly stressed that Australia respects the sovereignty of Solomon Islands despite its concerns about the pact.

“Oh, but Mr Speaker, I realise that Australia is a sovereign country which can enter into any treaty it wants to, transparently or not,” Mr Sogavare said.

“Which is exactly what they did with AUKUS.”

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