Government backbencher Danny Phillip has told a webinar yesterday that after a top Australian diplomat told them that they were not here to protect Chinese investments and infrastructure– it gave rise to other considerations in the minds of the Solomon Islands Government to get the Chinese police to come in and train the police here.
Phillip was one of the four prominent Solomon Islanders who shared their perspectives on the China–Solomon Islands security agreement which was brought together by the University of Hawai’i in conjunction with Georgetown University. It was moderated by Solomon Islander Dr Tarcisius Kabutaulaka, a political scientist from the University of Hawai’i.
The Solomon Islanders expressed their views on the security treaty between which was signed this week. Australia and other western countries had publicly expressed concerns over the treaty.
Phillip recalled riots and lootings signaling out the 2006 Riots against former PM Sydner Rini when RAMSI was still here.
RAMSI was a regional force led by Australia to restore law and order following the ethnic tension from 1998 to 2003.
Phillip pointed out that during the election of Rini: “RAMSI was still here, very much in full presence. And also our Royal Solomon Islands Police and Chinatown and some of our hotels were burnt down.”
He added and the latest one in November was the same.
“We have the presence of Australian police and maybe army personnel were here. And still we had Chinatown burnt down,” said Phillip who was also a former Prime Minister.
Meanwhile he said: “A very senior diplomat from the Australian High Commission saying very plainly to us that their presence here is not to protect any Chinese interests. This needs to be verified — but as a government we know that it was said to us in no uncertain terms that they are here not to protect Chinese investments, Chinese infrastructure so that gives rise to other considerations and in the minds of Solomon Islands Government to get the Chinese police to come in and train our own police.”
“There is an element of training our own police force giving them the right gear and equipment to handle such situations we had last November,” he said.
Also, Phillip said upon consultation with the Commissioner of Police they also admitted that they would not be able to provide security that was expected of Chinese Embassy and its personnel in Honiara.
When asked by the Dr Kabutaulaka if the treaty was signed largely for the purposes of protecting Chinese not so much for the security of Solomon Islands and Solomon Islanders, Phillip replied: “I think it’s both. It’s for own security as a country internally and for the interests of the Chinese investment and infrastructures.”