The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) has called on the Solomon Islands to reconsider plans for a controversial security treaty with China, becoming the first Pacific country to voice opposition to deepening ties.

The treaty would place the Pacific at the center of a geopolitical conflict between China and the United States, warned WSF President David Panuelo.

“The United States and China are increasingly at odds,” Panuelo wrote in a letter to Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare.

“This is problematic because the Federated States of Micronesia is a friend of the Chinese people and government, but we are also a sincere friend, if not an ally, of the people and government of the United States of America.”

The WSF had “serious security concerns” about the “unprecedented” deal, Panuelo said, noting new fears about what “big countries are privately preparing for”.

“Is it plausible that as more and more Pacific islands seek security agreements with larger countries, we could see a sovereign and peaceful Pacific fragment and become tools for the spheres of power and ‘influence of these great countries,” Panuelo wrote.

“Isn’t it plausible that our islands could become collateral damage again, as we saw in Guadalcanal in your country, and in Chuuk in my country, during World War II?”

The draft document, leaked last week, specifically provided a framework for Chinese forces to come to the Solomon Islands to “protect the safety of Chinese personnel and major projects” as well as “preserve social order”.

The draft agreement will be “cleaned up” before being signed by the foreign ministers of the Solomon Islands and China, the Solomon Islands Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement on Thursday.

“Solomon Islands reiterates that the cooperation framework aims to respond to both soft and hard internal threats to Solomon Islands,” the statement said.

“The Solomon Islands continues to roll out the implementation of its national security strategy and maintain its foreign policy of ‘friends of all and enemies of no one’.

“The country will work with all partners to provide a safe and secure nation where all people can coexist peacefully.”

Other regional leaders will intervene

Australia’s Pacific minister said the government does not want China to enter the Pacific’s “security environment”.(ABC News: Jarrod Fankhauser)

Australia, New Zealand and the United States have raised concerns that the treaty gives China military access to the Pacific and could see it set up a military base in the Solomon Islands.

Mr Sogavare said he had spoken to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, saying that while his country’s traditional security partners were still important, the Solomon Islands needed to diversify its partners to “meet our security needs “.

Mr Sogavare said there were no plans to allow China to build a naval or military base in his country, saying the suggestion was “misinformation”.

“We don’t have any pressure from our new friends,” he said.

Mr Morrison did not directly criticize the Solomon Islands for pursuing the deal, but Australian Pacific Minister Zed Seselja was more forceful.

He said Australia did not want to see authoritarian rule enter the Pacific’s “security environment” and predicted significant pushback from other Pacific island nations.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has suggested that China may want a naval base in the Solomon Islands to “intimidate” Australia.

James Batley, former Australian high commissioner to the Solomon Islands and a researcher at the ANU, told the ABC it was a bit surprising that the Solomon Islands government said it hadn’t anticipated such a strong reaction. .

“Maybe the prime minister hasn’t been given good advice, because I think the kind of reactions we’re seeing would or should have been entirely predictable,” he said.

Mr Batley said he expected other regional leaders to intervene.

“This may just be the first of similar types of messages that he [Mr Sogavare] receives,” he said.

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Chinese military base in Pacific not in regional interest, Australian PM says