Flat White

Too late to stop Xi’s militarisation of the Solomon Islands?

5 April 2022

4:00 AM

5 April 2022

4:00 AM

News that the Chinese Communist Party will be allowed to station warships and troops in the Solomon Islands as part of a ‘security agreement’ is an existential threat to Australia. It is an intelligence and foreign policy failure of the highest order.

Anyone who thinks the Solomons won’t be militarised against Australia’s interests also believed that the CCP was not militarising atolls in the South China Sea – or that they would not take Hong Kong and have no intention of invading Taiwan.

This time the militarisation will be 2,000 kilometres off the Queensland coast, able to disrupt our merchant and Royal Australian Navy shipping routes, and sits within easy missile reach of Brisbane and Sydney.

Genius.

How the CCP was able to strike an agreement with the corrupt Solomon Islands government without Australia knowing or averting is one of our worst foreign policy failures.

Our intelligence services must be asleep at the wheel, or if they did warn their political masters, maybe they were the ones asleep.

It is unfathomable that this could happen. We need to know why we did not know before it was too late.

Australians and Americans fought for the Solomon Islands against the Japanese invasion heading for Australia in 1942.

HMAS Canberra is a war grave where 84 sailors lost their lives off Savo Island attempting, with American ships, to screen a Japanese naval force.

Now, we are letting an enemy, with arguably the same malicious intent as the Japanese, waltz in unopposed.


As Andrew Bolt wrote this week, Australia’s vital shipping lanes will soon be encircled by the CCP’s so-called Peoples’ Liberation Army navy with ports in Sri Lanka, the Maldives, and Pakistan.

A Solomons port completes the python squeeze.

Are we awake yet?

If not there was the alarming piece in today’s Sydney Morning Herald by Celsus Irokwato Talifilu, a political adviser to Premier Daniel Suidani of the Malaita Province in the Solomon Islands.

He details how hapless Solomons Members of Parliament have been bought off with cash bribes by the CCP.

‘The corrupt political elite in the Solomon Islands central government have become kleptocrats. The nation is now an oligarchy, not a democracy,’ he wrote.

Again, how did our intelligence services not pick this up and act?

Not only are Solomon Islands politicians ceding their sovereignty, they are ceding the entire South Pacific’s and potentially Australia’s to a dictatorship with transparent expansionist ambitions.

The CCP is a genocidal criminal organisation. It is not the Solomon Islands’ friend, it is not Australia’s friend.

The Australian Defence Force’s Joint Operations Commander, Lieutenant General Greg Bilton, said Australia will now have to ‘change our patrolling patterns and our maritime awareness activities’.

‘It does change the calculus. If Chinese navy vessels are operating from the Solomon Islands, they are in much closer proximity to the Australian mainland obviously,’ said Bilton. ‘That would change the way we would undertake day to day operations, particularly in the air and at sea.’

No kidding.

Dredging operations on tiny atolls in the South China Sea have now become airfields for jet bombers.

Imagine what they can do on the Solomons with no dredging required…

The signature of the Solomons Islands Prime Minister on a deal with the CCP has become the biggest threat to Australia’s security since 1942.

And we found out too late.

The question now is what can be done before the first PLA warships berth in Honiara?

As Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told the Australian Parliament: ‘That is the nature of evil – it can instantly cross any distance, any barriers, destroy lives.’

Thanks to a foolish deal with the Solomons Parliament, evil is coming closer to Australia’s borders, whether we like it or not.

Lyle Shelton blogs at lyleshelton.com.au.

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