| 5 March 2024, Tuesday |

Australia’s PM facing election, decries China’s interference

On Saturday, Australia’s prime minister accused China of “form,” or a record, of meddling in international affairs, after his home minister suggested Beijing’s announcement of a security agreement with the nearby Solomon Islands was timed to influence an election.

With most polls predicting a loss for Scott Morrison’s conservative coalition in the May 21 election, the coalition has pushed to showcase its national security credentials, such as a firm stance against China.

China has stated that the treaty is not directed at any third party and has encouraged Australia to “respect China’s and the Solomons’ sovereign and independent choices.”

After Australia’s opposition Labor party this week called the deal a national security failure by Canberra, Morrison’s government has toughened its remarks.

He cited a ban on foreign political donations and a register of foreign representatives, saying, “Any suggestion that the Chinese government doesn’t seek to interfere in Australia, well, we didn’t put that legislation in for no reason.”

In the Solomon Islands a day earlier, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare told parliament the country would not participate in any militarization in the Pacific, and had signed the China deal as a security pact with Australia was inadequate.

  • Reuters