| 5 March 2024, Tuesday |

Australia defends handling of China-Solomons deal; makes tax pledge ahead of polls

The Australian government justified its reaction to China’s courting of the adjacent Solomon Islands, which resulted in a security treaty, ahead of a general election next month in which it intended to demonstrate its national security credentials.

In a televised interview, Defence Minister Peter Dutton ascribed China’s achievement to an uneven playing field comprising techniques with which no Australian government could compete.

The agreement, announced earlier this month, is considered as a significant step forward for China in the resource-rich Pacific, where the US has long had a strong role alongside allies Australia and New Zealand.

According to China, the treaty would assist the Solomon Islands in maintaining social order, dealing with natural catastrophes, and providing humanitarian aid. It stated that it presents no threat to the United States, while the Solomon Islands stated that it will not jeopardize regional peace.

Nonetheless, the United States has stated that it will respond appropriately to any Chinese military presence in the region, while opponents of Prime Minister Scott Morrison have dubbed the agreement Australia’s “worst diplomatic failure in the Pacific since World War II.”

  • Reuters