By EDDIE OSIFELO
UNITED States of America has not come out clear on any military response or sanction if China is going to build a military base in Solomon Islands.
Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink explained this during the teleconference with international media on Tuesday.
Andrew Tillett from the Australian Financial Review in Canberra, Australia, asked (Kritenbrink) who told the Solomon Islands Government that the U.S. would respond if there was a Chinese military base in the Solomons.
She reiterated that Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison described it as a red-line issue.
However, Ambassador Kritenbrink said he is not going to speculate and not in a position to talk about what the United States may or may not do in such a situation.
“But again, our purpose in going to the Solomons was to explain to our friends there our approach to the region and the steps we’re taking to step up our engagement across the Pacific Islands, the specific programs and activities that are ongoing in the Solomons and that we expect to expand and accelerate in the months ahead, but also to communicate in a very candid way the concerns that we have about this security agreement that they have concluded with China.
“And again, we outlined that of course we have respect for the Solomon Islands’ sovereignty, but we also wanted to let them know that if steps were taken to establish a de facto permanent military presence, power-projection capabilities, or a military installation, then we would have significant concerns and we would very naturally respond to those concerns,” he said.
“So, again, I’m not going to speculate what that may or may not involve, but I think our goal was to be very clear in that regard.
“And I think as we noted in my remarks a moment ago, and I’m sure you saw the statement that we released from the White House at the end of our trip, Prime Minister Sogavare did reiterate his specific assurances on each of those three concerns: that there would be no military base, no long-term presence, and no power-projection capability, something that he has said publicly,” he said.
“And again, we made clear we will follow those developments closely in consultation with our regional partners, and I’m confident when we hold our strategic dialogue session in September, we will have the opportunity to discuss these issues further, along with the many other issues I’ve outlined here tonight,” he said.