Following the claim of the Australian Prime Minister saying ‘China is exerting enormous pressure on Pacific Island nations, the deputy director of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Information Department, Zhao Lijian on Friday slammed Australia and stated, “We firmly reject the irresponsible remarks by certain Australian politicians on China-Solomon Islands relations.”
During a press conference, Lijian made these remarks when he was asked about Australian PM Scott Morrison’s remarks on China. He went on to say that in recent times, the United States, the United Kingdom, as well as Australia have been blatantly pushing nuclear submarine cooperation over international resistance. He further emphasised that this has been seriously jeopardising the efforts to establish a nuclear-free zone in the South Pacific region.
The Chinese official also added, “The three countries are trying to make South Pacific countries once again pawns in group politics and military confrontation and make the innocent people in South Pacific countries pay a heavy price for their selfish political agenda,” as per an official statement.
‘Certain Australian politicians should not incite regional security concerns’
Furthermore, Lijian asserted in the conference that certain Australian politicians should not incite regional security concerns or nuclear proliferation threats, seek group conflict or geopolitical games in the Asia-Pacific, or form tiny cliques with Cold War mentalities and military confrontation.
According to him, they should instead listen to regional nations’ appeal for regional peace, stability, and long-term development, respect island countries’ right to seek bilateral relations on their own terms, and “earnestly reflect on the manifold disasters their coercive diplomacy has brought to the people of PICs.”
These comments of Lijian came after Scott Morrison said China is applying “enormous pressure” on Pacific Island governments when he was asked about the security agreement signed between China and Solomon Islands.
‘There is enormous pressure and influence which is placed on Pacific Island’: Morrison
According to the Guardian, Morrison stated that he spoke with Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare on various occasions this year, but did not specify particular dates. At an election campaign media conference in Ipswich, the Australian PM said, “There is enormous pressure and influence which is placed on Pacific Island leaders across the region, which the Chinese government has been engaged in for some time,” The Guardian reported.
In addition to this, when questioned if bribery was a factor in the agreement being signed, Morrison informed the Seven Network earlier on Friday that Australia had a very strong understanding of China’s operations in the Pacific. Xi Jinping’s administration, according to Morrison, did not ‘play by the same rules’ as fair and transparent liberal democracies, The Guardian reported.
Meanwhile, earlier, Zed Seselja, Australia’s Minister for International Development and the Pacific, met with the head of a Pacific Island government to advise him of Beijing’s rising military presence in the region, which might destabilise the region. In an effort to alleviate diplomatic tensions, Australian Minister Zed Seselja traveled to the capital city of the Solomon Islands to speak with officials.