Washington intends to invite Pacific Island nation leaders to the White House amid increasing concerns over the recent controversial security agreement signed between the Communist Chinese Party (CCP) and the Solomon Islands.
Experts warn that complete enforcement of the agreement would eventually result in militarisation and geopolitical tensions like the situation in the South China Sea.
According to comments obtained by Reuters, Indo-Pacific Coordinator Kurt Campbell at the US-New Zealand Business Summit on Monday said the United States will do more in areas significant to Pacific Islanders.
Mr Campbell said the Biden administration’s actions would include redeploying the Peace Corps and working with the US Agency for International Development (AID) and the US International Development Finance Corporation to fund projects in the South Pacific.
The diplomat added that the US would provide extra support for the Pacific Islands Forum, a trade bloc established to advance cooperation within the Pacific region.
In a last attempt to stop the security pact between Beijing and the Solomon Islands, Mr Campbell visited the island nation before its final deal with the CCP.
A leaked draft of the agreement reportedly states that with the consent of the Solomon Islands government, China will be allowed to dispatch police, military and naval ships to supposedly protect Chinese personnel and major projects in the Solomon Islands.
The nation has power over crucial sea lanes because of its location, making the island nation a key battle site in World War II. The fight resulted in over 7,000 casualties to the Allied forces.
However, Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare continues to defend his decision to cooperate with the CCP. He assured Mr Campbell and Australian authorities that no military base would be established in the region.
“When Australia signed up to AUKUS [a trilateral security pact between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States], we did not become theatrical or hysterical about the implications this would have for us,” Mr Sogavare told the Solomon Islands Parliament on April 29.
“We respected Australia’s decision.”
South Pacific expert Cleo Paskal has urged Australia and other democratic countries to cut off all engagement with Mr Sogavare to try and change his thinking.
Ms Paskal said that leaders should instead call on Mr Sogavare to abide by the 2000 Townsville Peace Agreement, which ended ongoing violence and brought stability to the region.
Grant Newsham, retired US Marine officer, said pro-democracy local politicians and groups should expose the CCP’s bribery allegations.
“Every deal signed with a Chinese or other foreign company in the Solomons should be exposed to public scrutiny,” Mr Newsham wrote for The Epoch Times.
“Besides undercutting Beijing’s subversion efforts, transparency and revealing corrupt activities bolster local politicians and groups that want honest and consensual government and oppose CCP domination.”
The Epoch Times also reported that since Mr Sogavare is apparently unpopular with his people, there are concerns he might create a false-flag event to prevent his country’s 2023 election.
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