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'Regional contest' will rise with China-Solomons pact

Tess Ikonomou -

China and the Solomon Islands should "provide transparency" to the Indo-Pacific region by publishing the details of a security deal, Foreign Minister Penny Wong says.

China's state broadcaster reported President Xi Jinping and Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare had jointly announced a comprehensive strategic partnership in Beijing.

A spokeswoman for Senator Wong said the government was aware of reports referencing an implementation plan for a policing deal signed between China and the Solomon Islands in March 2022.

"We are concerned that this development will invite further regional contest," she said in a statement.

"Solomon Islands and China should provide transparency of their intentions to Australia and the region by publishing the agreement immediately, so the Pacific family can collectively consider the implications for our shared security.

"This is why Pacific leaders - including Australia - have since agreed to the principle of a Pacific family first approach to security."

Mr Sogavare in June issued a statement calling for a review of the "current security treaty" between Australia and his country.

During a visit to the Pacific nation, Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles offered an ongoing security presence in the Solomon Islands, pointing to the Pacific Games in November and elections in April.

Beijing has been expanding its influence in the region, with Chinese police present in the Solomon Islands since late 2021.

Tess Ikonomou - AAP


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