The Financial Times said that after signing a security deal with the Solomon Islands, China is in talks with Kiribati and Vanuatu to sign similar agreements with these two countries. The Financial Times report also said that discussions with Kiribati have been ongoing for years, citing an unnamed US government official.
It was also said that an agreement with Tonga is also being discussed.
The official said Beijing is setting up security centres in the Indo-Pacific with the help of these security agreements. The official also told the Financial Times that the security agreements are similar to those with the Solomon Islands.
The move is proof that China is expanding its sphere of influence in the Indo-Pacific to counter Australia and the US.
The US needs to worry more about this as talks with Kiribati are in the final stages. The Pacific island nation of Kiribati is 3000 km from the US state of Hawaii where the US Indo-Pacific Command is located.
The draft agreement between China and the Solomon Islands allows the former to send police and even military forces to the islands, raising concerns for AUKUS partners Australia and the United States – which are also members of the Quad group.
The discovery comes at a time when US President Joe Biden is in the neighbourhood and it is unclear whether the issue will come up during the Quad meeting in Tokyo next week.
Kiribati, for its part, has denied entering into any new type of security deal. His foreign minister, Michael Foon, dismissed these reports. However, opposition leader Tessy Aria Lambourn warned against becoming part of China’s plans.