Australia’s prime minister warns against growing Chinese influence in the region

Australia’s prime minister said a Chinese military base on the neighboring Solomon Islands would be a “red line” for him, but he hasn’t announced how his country would respond if China establishes a base.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Sunday he was concerned about what it could mean for countries in the region if a recently signed security pact between China and the Solomon Islands resulted in Beijing expanding its military presence.

“This is a shared concern, not just Australia. This is Australia and regional governments, particularly places like Fiji and Papua New Guinea,” Mr. Morrison said, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

“We won’t be having Chinese military naval bases in our region on our doorstep,” said Mr. Morrison, who leads the country’s center-right Liberal Party of Australia.

He said Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare assured him it wouldn’t happen.

“So he clearly shares our red line,” Mr. Morrison said, according to the ABC.

Mr. Morrison said officials in Washington share his concerns about growing Chinese military influence in the region. In February, the US announced it would “expedite” its plan to reopen its embassy in the Solomon Islands’ capital of Honiara.

The US would have “significant concerns and respond accordingly” if Beijing uses its growing relationship with the Solomon Islands to establish a permanent military presence there, according to a statement released by the White House. The US will “follow developments closely in consultation with regional partners,” according to the statement.

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