Formalizing Fear

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China and the Solomon Islands signed a security pact Tuesday, an agreement that drew the ire of Australia and the United States amid concerns over Beijing increasing its military presence in the Pacific, the Guardian reported.

Chinese officials said the deal was signed by the foreign ministers of both countries, although they did not provide details of where or when the signing took place.

Last month, a leaked draft of the agreement showed that China could deploy armed police at the request of the Solomon Islands to maintain “social order.” But the contentious deal has sparked fears of a potential Chinese military base on the island nation, located about 1,200 miles from Australia.

The Australian government denounced the pact due to “the lack of transparency” and said it would “seek further clarity on the terms of the agreement and its consequences for the Pacific region.”

The US government, meanwhile, plans to send a delegation to the Solomon Islands to discuss concerns about China and also the reopening of the US embassy in the capital, Honiara.

Meanwhile, China and the Solomon Islands dismissed concerns, saying the security cooperation pact is a “normal exchange and cooperation between two sovereign and independent countries.”

Solomon Island’s prime minister, Manasseh Sogavare, has reiterated that the Pacific nation will not allow the construction of a Chinese military base on its soil.

His assurances, however, have done little to assuage Australian and US concerns.

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