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‘Not in national interest’ says Solomon’s opposition leader

Friday 25 March 2022 | Written by RNZ | Published in Regional, Solomon Islands

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‘Not in national interest’ says Solomon’s opposition leader
The leader of the Solomon Islands' opposition party, Matthew Wale Photo: Supplied

Solomon Islands' opposition party says the Government's proposed security cooperation agreement with China reflects its careless attitude.

The unverified document lays down a framework which could permit Beijing to deploy forces to protect the safety of Chinese personnel and major projects in Solomon Islands.

Matthew Wale, Solomon Islands' opposition party leader said that any sensible person would recognize that Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare's actions on this matter are threatening national unity.

"How is such a decision in the best interest of the nation?" the opposition leader questioned.

He said that these actions show a disregard for the public's views and are causing the public to lose trust in the government.

"Clearly the issue of China is still an unsettled situation in our country because of the geopolitics involved. Yet the prime minister seems bent on aggravating this situation as reflected in this draft MOU," he said.

Wale stated that the proposed MOU with China is an example of how Pacific Islands nations have struggled to balance their own interests against those of global superpowers.

"For long, the Pacific has had to navigate the different waves of geopolitical narratives that has washed over its shores," he said.

Solomon Islands prime minister, Manasseh Sogavare.
Solomon Islands prime minister, Manasseh Sogavare. Photo: Solomon Islands Government Communications Unit

Wale also asked "what security benefits can be gained from this agreement with the PRC that cannot be provided by Australia, New Zealand and our other regional friends?"

The opposition leader said it would be preferable to enter into security agreements only with like-minded democracies.

"This is because, firstly, the system of government in the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) is not familiar to Solomon Islands, and secondly, Solomon Islands itself does not have the capacity to manage such an agreement with the Peoples Republic of China," he said.

Wale said that the Solomon Islands, as a sovereign nation, should make its decisions in tune with its own national interest. This is especially important when considering whether to enter into an alliance with a foreign power.