Chinese warships could be stationed in the Pacific as part of a major security move that is raising alarm in Australia

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A draft copy of a security memorandum of understanding circulated on social media says it would cover Chinese police, armed police and the military assisting the Solomon Islands on social order, disaster response and protecting the security of Chinese personnel and major projects in the Solomon Islands.

The plan also calls for Chinese navy ships to carry out logistical resupply in the Solomon Islands, fueling concern in Canberra that it would be a step towards a Chinese military base in the region.

Galokale said she was aware of the reports on social media and would not speculate on the timing of the approval process for a security cooperation agreement with China.

“We have an extensive security treaty with Australia and police cooperation. If there is anything with the PRC, it will be the same,” she said, referring to China.

On Tuesday, the Royal Solomon Islands Police posted on its website photographs of police training with replica weapons supplied by China.

In November, around 200 police and soldiers from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Papua New Guinea arrived in Honiara days after the riots to help restore order.

Galokale said the police agreement with China was the same as agreements the Solomon Islands already had with countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

A spokesperson for the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs said Pacific island nations had the right to make sovereign decisions, but noted that the “Pacific family” had managed to restore calm after civil unrest in Honiara.

“The Pacific family is able to provide security assistance without the need for outside support,” the foreign affairs spokesperson said in a statement. “We would be concerned about any action that would destabilize the security of our region.”

Australian Home Secretary Karen Andrews earlier told reporters that the Pacific was Australia’s “backyard” and that Canberra was concerned about Chinese military activity in the Pacific islands.

Reuters

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