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The message China's security deal with the Solomon Islands sends to Australia, New Zealand and the United States

By Jeffrey Wall - posted Friday, 22 April 2022

It comes as no surprise to me that China the draft wide-ranging agreement has already been signed and proudly announced by the PRC Foreign Ministry.

I have been wondering how I would describe the impact of the agreement and especially its signing even before the high-powered United States delegation visits Honiara to argue against the SI Government signing-up.

Well, too late. The deal is not only done it is locked in.


I have sadly come to the conclusion the agreement simply proves what I have been arguing for some time, and that is Australia's influence in the South Pacific has never been weaker than it is today.

The Solomon Islands is the most obvious and recent example of that sad reality.

But when you look elsewhere among what the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister call our "Pacific Family" it is not hard to find examples of our diminished and diminishing influence in Vanuatu, Tonga and scattered islands further to our north.

I would add, as readers will appreciate, Papua New Guinea, but I have some hope China's growing influence in PNG might be slowed, if not reversed, depending on the PNG national elections in June-July.

Papua New Guinea is a large, complex, but very democratic nation, with a long and generally harmonious association with Australia. When you have 52 registered parties running in the PNG elections the outcome is very unpredictable - and it may well be that the generally pro-China Marape Government will not be re-elected.

But the Solomon Islands is a lost cause. What ought to be ringing alarm bells in Canberra, Wellington and Washington is just how quickly the Solomon Islands has gone from being aligned with Taiwan to China's most compliant partner in the region - barely three years.


Surely this outcome requires a massive re-assessment of Australia's strategic approach to our immediate region - and how we can reverse our apparent inability to slow China's influence?

One hopes the New Zealand and the United States administrations might do the same!

I am not sure China has any immediate interest in building a substantial military or naval base on the Solomon Islands. In the short term, it might be satisfied with the apparent authority it now has to place police officers in the Solomon Islands, to supply weapons and logistics, as well as visiting shop berthing rights.

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About the Author

Jeffrey Wall CSM CBE is a Brisbane Political Consultant and has served as Advisor to the PNG Foreign Minister, Sir Rabbie Namaliu – Prime Minister 1988-1992 and Speaker 1994-1997.

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