Security team

Leaked documents reveal that China requested the dispatch of a heavily armed security team to the Solomon Islands

Leaked documents revealed that the Chinese Embassy in the Solomon Islands requested the dispatch of a heavily armed security team to the islands after riots broke out in Honiara.

The embassy said in a statement: “The government of the People’s Republic of China has decided to send a plainclothes security team, 10 people, with the necessary small arms and equipment to the Chinese Embassy in the Islands. Solomon”.

The security team’s “official status” was that of “diplomatic attaches” who would “enhance the safety and security of the Chinese Embassy”, according to a leaked memo obtained by the Guardian.

Solomon Islands diplomat Colin Beck wrote a note saying the request made by the Chinese Embassy “arose from the last three days of rioting in November, of which the Chinese community in the Solomon Islands was most affected by the looting and violence among other business owners”.

“My ministry, during the period, could not guarantee the safety of the embassy and [its] Staff. As the host country, we had an obligation to protect all embassies, including [the] Chinese Embassy,” the memo reads. “In this regard, we have no objection to the request.”

Confirming the veracity of the documents, the Solomon Islands government said it “must be vigilant against false news or misinterpreted comments on social media forums following leaked documents containing official correspondence between the government of the Solomon Islands and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) Embassy in Honiara. .”

Read also | Riots in the Solomon Islands: What’s behind the protests?

After a regional backlash, the Solomon Islands said it would not allow a Chinese military base in the Pacific island nation despite its intention to sign a security pact with Beijing.

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare said: “The government is aware of the security ramifications of hosting a military base, and it will not neglect to allow such an initiative to take place under its watch.”

“The purpose of security cooperation between China and the Solomon Islands is to maintain the safety of people’s lives and property. It is without any military element or connotation,” the ministry spokesperson said. Chinese Foreign Affairs, Zhao Lijian.

Australia’s Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Zed Seselja, said his country “stands firmly as a partner and friend of the Solomon Islands” and is confident that “the Pacific family will continue to meet the needs of security of our region”.

(With agency contributions)