By EDDIE OSIFELO
MINISTRY of Foreign Affairs and External Trade has defended the Chinese Police Liaison Team currently providing training for local police officers.
A former Australian High Commissioner to Solomon Islands James Batley told Radio Australia involvement of Chinese officials in training local police is setting off alarm bells in Canberra.
The move from Beijing follows last year’s violent riots which targeted Chinese-owned businesses in the capital, Honiara.
Batley, who led the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands and now a Distinguished Policy Fellow at the Australian National University, said the Canberra is watching development closely.
However, Permanent Secretary Beck told reporters yesterday first thing first, no one has monopoly of knowledge.
“We should not go into ideological discussion on it,” he said.
Beck said Solomon Islands has been sending students to China and all forms of democratic governments.
He said the Government also sent more than 80 medical students to Cuba.
“I think I want to register it is unfortunate that anyone to start to make judgement because it come from one particular country, then we are very particular about that.
“We must look at everything we deal with it, even for our police force from our national perspective,” he said.
“Do we need to build capacity?
“Do we need to increase capability?” he asked.
“If other countries are not giving and equipping us with the capabilities, we need to find solutions.
“So, it is unfortunate that some of our close friends have some opinions on that,” he added.
“I think we can just probably note it, but what matters to us is basically we need everyone.
“I think follow our foreign policy, we have cooperation’s with Australia, China and other countries that continue to come and support us,” he added.
Bartley said Australia has been a major, perhaps the major security partner for Solomon Islands and that’s going back into the 1980s, 1990s.”
He said China is a new player giving assistance but it’s very small scale at this stage, with only a handful of personnel.
He said Australia will be watching since China has a different tradition on policing.