Australia and New Zealand on Wednesday talked about their tension regarding a new policing agreement between China and the Solomon Islands that they said would undermine the Pacific’s agreed regional safety norms. Earlier in July, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and the Solomon Islands’ opposition party called for Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare to “immediately” publish details of the policing deal with Beijing, amid concern it will welcome more regional contest. Australia Prime Minister Anthony Albanese went to the New Zealand capital Wellington on Wednesday for conversations on topics involving climate, defence and the economy with his New Zealand counterpart Chris Hipkins.
A collaborative statement given after the discussions called for transparency over the Solomon Islands-China policing deal. “Leaders agreed it would be paramount for the Pacific Islands Forum to converse about these ideas and support transparency, leading to the area to collectively recognize the applications for our shared safety,” it said. Both leaders were stressing about “rising problems to regional stability” in the Indo-Pacific involving the militarisation of disputed areas of the South China Sea and tensions in the Taiwan Strait.