Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated Sunday during a heated debate ahead of the election that Australia will cooperate with friends to prevent China from establishing military bases in the Solomon Islands.

Last month, Beijing announced a security pact with the Solomon Islands. China’s growing power in the Pacific has become a contentious political issue ahead of Australia’s election on May 21.

Morrison has warned that establishing a Chinese military facility in the Solomon Islands would be a “red line” which means “Australia would work with partners to ensure that that type of an outcome would be prevented.”

He said, “The Solomon Islands government themselves have made it very clear to us that that is not an outcome that they are seeking or supporting either. I believe it is not in their national interest to have such a presence.”

Morrison’s conservative government was criticized for failing to prevent China from signing deals in areas where Australia has a lot of influence.

Morrison has disputed that Australia respects its Pacific friends equally and urged a “calm and composed” response to the situation.

Sign up to receive our latest news!

By submitting this form, I agree to the terms.