Beijing has dismissed as “fake news” allegations made earlier by Canberra and Washington that China is intending to set up a military base in the Solomon Islands.
At a press conference on Monday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Wang Wenbin, insisted that the “so-called Chinese military base in the Solomon Islands is completely fake news made up by a few people with ulterior motives.” The diplomat also pointed out that cooperation between the two nations was “based on the principles of mutual equality, mutual benefit and win-win results.”
Wenbin called out Washington’s hypocrisy, saying that the US was among the loudest voices expressing concern over China’s alleged plans to set up a base in Oceania, while itself having “nearly 800 military bases in more than 80 countries.”
The Chinese official went on to remind Washington that the Solomon Islands is an “independent sovereign country, not the ‘backyard’ of the United States and Australia.”
Last Tuesday, China announced that State Councilor Wang Yi and Solomon Islands Foreign Minister Jeremiah Manele had signed a security pact between the two nations.
The US was quick to express concern. The White House National Security Council’s spokesperson claimed that the signing followed a “pattern of China offering shadowy, vague deals with little regional consultation in fishing, resource management, development assistance and now security practices.”
Several days later, the White House revealed that the American delegation to the Solomon Islands had warned the nation’s leadership that the US would “respond accordingly” should Chinese military installations appear in the country.
Canberra has also made it clear that such a military base, which would be some 2,000km (1,200 miles) from Australia’s shores, would represent a “red line.”
Meanwhile, Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare insisted that the deal was necessary to beef up security and was “guided by our national interests.” He stated last week that the agreement does not allow China to set up a military base on the islands.
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