A diplomacy expert pointed out that Solomon is taking advantage of competition between China and other countries through its security deal signed with Beijing.
According to Joseph Siracusa, adjunct professor of international diplomacy at Australia-based Curtin University, the controversial deal is a sign that the Solomon Islands is playing the U.S. and China off against each other.
Giving his explanation on The Epoch Times, Siracusa said that when the bigger countries are attempting to gain influence over a region, the smaller nations there will play “small power politics.”
China is offering infrastructure deals to many developing countries through its Belt and Road Initiative. Siracusa said that what China is doing is classic diplomacy that some big countries applied in the 19th century or in the early 20th century.
He made clear that it’s about leveraging money and finances to get a foothold.
In Solomon, Siracusa said that all things changed when the islands’ leadership withdrew its support from Taiwan in favor of China.
The diplomacy expert said that if Solomon hadn’t switched leaders or loyalties, China would not have come calling with their checkbook.
Solomon and China signed the security deal in April. The text of the agreement has not been made public.
As reported by The Guardian, a draft of the agreement has been leaked. It revealed that Solomon could call upon China’s armed police and military personnel to assist in maintaining social order, protecting people and property. The island could also call for Beijing to help with humanitarian assistance, disaster response, or assistance on other tasks.
Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare said that he would only release the agreement’s content following China’s approval.
Sogavare has been defiant in his decision to sign the security pact. Meanwhile, he gave assurances to Australia, Japan, and the U.S. that the deal won’t result in China’s military bases being built on the island.
However, Australia has warned of an unpredictable China. Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison doesn’t rule out the Solomon government officials being bribed by China.
In a speech on April 22, Morrison said that Australia is very well aware of what China has done in many other countries. He added that the Chinese authorities “don’t play by the same rules as transparent liberal democracies.”