Taiwan yesterday joined the US in expressing “deep concerns” over a security pact sealed a day earlier between China and Taipei’s former diplomatic ally the Solomon Islands, a move that many fear could open the door to a Chinese naval base in the South Pacific.
“We share the same stance [as] our democratic allies in expressing concerns over the lack of transparency in a deal that could destabilize regional peace and security,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said.
The deal could also threaten a “supply chain between diplomatic countries,” she said, referring to some experts’ concerns that Beijing’s establishment of bases across the Pacific could threaten US supply lines in the event of war.
Photo: Screengrab from Learn & Study in Taiwan website
She called on the Solomon Islands not to become a “bargaining chip” or assist Beijing in expanding its military presence in the Pacific region.
“Taiwan will continue to work together with like-minded nations to maintain peace, stability and a rules-based international order in surrounding regions,” she added.
The Solomon Islands had been Taiwan’s diplomatic ally since 1983. The two countries cut diplomatic relations in September 2019 after Honiara announced it would ditch Taipei in favor of Beijing.
Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文彬) announced the signing of the security agreement in Beijing on Tuesday evening, saying it would involve China cooperating with Honiara on maintaining social order, protecting people, providing aid, combating natural disasters and safeguarding national security.
However, the US has said that the pact could lead to a Chinese military presence in the Solomon Islands, and Australia and New Zealand are wary of China’s growing influence in a region traditionally under their sway.
The US Department of State on Monday said that the pact “leaves open the door for the deployment of PRC [People’s Republic of China] military forces to the Solomon Islands” and sets a “concerning precedent for the wider Pacific island region.”
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