The government today confirms that the armed personnel requested by China to provide security at the Chinese Embassy in Honiara had never entered the country.
“I can use this occasion to say, no, we don’t have any embassy security personnel. None had actually entered the country.
“We also want to say that no arms have been shipped other than the training replica arms that are stored by the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force,” Permanent Secretary of Foreign Affairs Collin Beck told journalists this afternoon.
Beck and his colleague permanent secretary of Police Karen Galokale were in the spotlight in the past 48 hours following leaked documents on the issue. The documents showed that the PRC had requested the government to allow them to bring in 10 security personnel with light arms to be stationed at the embassy as security guards and also to carry out escorts.
Beck in a letter to Galokale on December 9th approved the request for the personnel to enter but asked her ministry to consider the request of light weapons. The correspondence which went viral on social media had attracted widespread criticism on Beck and Galokale.
Today, Beck took the opportunity to tell the press that the Chinese had never entered and no weapons had been shipped into the country.
He, however, confirmed that what “we have is Chinese liaison officers who are actually conducting training wit the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force.”
Chief of Staff in the Office of the Prime Minister Robson Djokovic said the improved security on the ground provided by the regional forces after the riots had resulted in them aborting the plan.
According to Beck, the request was made by China straight after the November Riots during which the city was burnt and lives were lost and many business people in Chinatown were homeless.
“Police was stressed during that time we were not in a position to guarantee safety and security of the diplomats –in particular PRC. If you look at the event, the Chinese faced the brunt of the riot,” Beck said.
He further explained, as a state: “We have an obligation to look after sending states diplomats’ including China.
Beck explained that under Vienna convention— article 22— it is standard protocol to request for own diplomatic personnel to protect their diplomats.
“You must remember that every embassy/high commission in this country is a foreign territory. Once they see gaps then they can request to have their own security,” said Beck.
All senior officials from the Office of Prime Minister including Special Secretary to the Prime Minister Albert Kabui and Djokovic strongly reminded the media that it was the Chinese Government that requested for their personnel to come here and not the Solomon Islands Government.