China’s engagement with South Pacific island nations poses no threat to Australia, Chinese Ambassador to Australia Xiao Qian (肖千) said yesterday in response to concern that Beijing plans to establish a military foothold in the Solomon Islands.
Xiao made the comments in a newspaper opinion piece as reports emerged of a planned trip by a high-level Chinese delegation to the Solomons following the completion of a bilateral security pact.
“The cooperation between China and the South Pacific island countries is conducive to people’s well-being on both sides, and regional prosperity and stability, and will by no means threaten Australia’s security,” Xiao wrote in the Australian Financial Review.
“China’s rise should not be seen as a threat to Australia,” Xiao wrote.
He made no specific mention of the Solomon Islands or the security pact.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, whose government is seeking a fourth three-year term in elections next week, said he disagreed with the ambassador that “Chinese government interference in the Pacific is of no consequence.”
“I think it’s of great consequence,” Morrison told reporters. “I support the Australian national interests, not the Chinese government’s view of what national interests are, whether they be in Australia or across the Pacific, and that’s why I’ve always taken a very strong stance upon this.”
Australia and its allies, including the US, say that the China-Solomons pact might result in a Chinese naval base being established less than 2,000km off the northeast Australian coast.
Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has said that there will be no Chinese military base in his country.
China has denied seeking a military foothold in the islands.
Asked if China’s advancement should be considered a threat to Australia, opposition leader Anthony Albanese told reporters: “China has changed its posture. They are more aggressive in the region.”
“We need to, in the words of the [US President Joe] Biden administration, have competition without catastrophe,” Albanese said.
Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅) is planning a trip to the Solomons, media reports have said.
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it had no information to release about a trip.
Sogavare’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on a potential Wang visit.
‘EATING UP SPRING’: Temperatures are 10oC to 15oC above the seasonal average and a city northwest of Madrid experienced its first ‘tropical’ May night on Friday Parts of Spain are experiencing their hottest May since records began, as a mass of hot, dry air blows in from Africa, bringing with it dusty skies and temperatures of more than 40°C. Spain’s state meteorological agency, Aemet, has warned of a weekend heat wave of an “extraordinary intensity,” with temperatures between 10°C and 15°C above the seasonal average and more akin to high summer than mid-May. “The early hours of 21 May have been extraordinarily hot for the time of year across a good part of the center and south of the peninsula,” Aemet said on Saturday. “In many places the
BUSINESS AS USUAL: Thousands of people were forcibly removed from their homes in the dead of night and all mentions of the incident were scrubbed from the Internet Thousands of COVID-19-negative Beijing residents were forcibly relocated to quarantine hotels overnight due to a handful of infections, as the Chinese capital begins to take more extreme control measures resembling virus-hit Shanghai. Beijing has been battling its worst outbreak since the COVID-19 pandemic started. The Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 has infected more than 1,300 since late last month, leading city restaurants, schools and tourist attractions to be closed indefinitely. China’s strategy to achieve zero COVID-19 cases includes strict border closures, lengthy quarantines, mass testing and rapid, targeted lockdowns. More than 13,000 residents of the locked-down Nanxinyuan residential compound in southeast Beijing were
‘I’M STUNNED’: The disease is not known to be sexually transmitted, but a large outbreak might reveal previously unknown transmission routes, a virologist said Scientists who have monitored numerous outbreaks of monkeypox in Africa say they are baffled by the disease’s recent spread in Europe and North America. Cases of the smallpox-related disease have previously been seen only among people with links to central and West Africa. However, in the past week, Britain, Spain, Portugal, Italy, the US, Sweden, Canada all reported infections, mostly in young men who had not previously traveled to Africa. There are about 80 confirmed cases worldwide and 50 more suspected ones, the WHO said. France, Germany, Belgium and Australia reported their first cases on Friday. “I’m stunned by this. Every day I
INTERVENTION: A source said that a border patrol agent had rushed into the school without waiting for backup and killed the teen gunman, who was behind a barricade An 18-year-old man on Tuesday opened fire at a Texas elementary school, killing at least 19 children as he went from classroom to classroom, officials said. The attacker was killed by law enforcement. The death toll also included two adults, authorities said. Texas Governor Greg Abbott said that one of the two was a teacher. The assault at Robb Elementary School in the town of Uvalde was the deadliest shooting at a US school since a man killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012. Outside the town civic center, where families were told to await news