Australia warns China of ‘red line’ — RT World News

Scott Morrison said a Chinese military base in the Solomon Islands would be a step too far for Australia and the United States

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Sunday that a Chinese military base on the Solomon Islands would be unacceptable “Red line,” without adding how Canberra would fight back. Morrison’s government and the United States are scrambling to respond to a recently signed security agreement between the islands and Beijing, which they see as a “aggressive” movement.

“Working with our partners in New Zealand and of course the United States, I share the same red line as the United States when it comes to these issues,” said Morrison. “We will not have Chinese military naval bases in our region on our doorstep.”

A small archipelago located about 2,000 km off the northeast coast of Australia, the Solomon Islands made international news last week when it signed a security pact with China. As the island nation reels from violent protests last year, the deal – according to a leaked draft agreement – promises Chinese aid in “Maintaining social order” and allows Chinese warships to dock in its ports.

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare insists the deal was needed to boost security and was “guided by our national interests”. He said last week that the deal did not allow China to establish a military base on the islands, which Beijing also pointed out.

However, Australia and its allies fear otherwise. “The reality is that China has changed. China’s incredible aggressiveness, acts of foreign interference, willingness to pay bribes to get a result…this is the reality of modern China,” he added. Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton told Sky News on Sunday. Beijing has so far not responded to these allegations of corruption.

In a joint statement, the United States, Japan, Australia and New Zealand said the pact poses “Serious risks for a free and open Indo-Pacific”, and the White House warned that “if measures are taken [by China] establishing a de facto permanent military presence, power projection capabilities, or military installation…then the United States would have significant concerns and respond accordingly.

However, like Morrison, the nature of a possible American response was not specified.

As Australians are set to vote in the federal election next month, Morrison has taken a hammer blow home for allowing the deal to go ahead. While he defended his actions by arguing that “we are not going to trample on telling the leaders [the] Pacific Islands what they should and should not do”, Shadow Foreign Minister Penny Wong of the Labor Party has argued that foreign aid to the Solomons could have steered her government away from China’s influence.

“We would not have cut foreign and development aid which is important for development and national security,” she said at a campaign event on Sunday. “We wouldn’t have cut bilateral aid by an average of 28% each year…and we wouldn’t have thumbed our noses at Pacific leaders when they told us in a forum that climate change was a their number one national security problem.

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