On April 9, it was reported that President Biden will send White House Coordinator for Indo-Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell to the Solomon Islands this month, in which he is expected to travel with Assistant Secretary of State for Asian Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink. The rare visit underscores high-level U.S. concern that the Pacific nation may be developing close ties with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Last month, a senior Australian defense source revealed that the CCP negotiated a security pact with the Solomon Islands under which it would be allowed to station naval vessels and defense personnel on the islands in the name of protecting infrastructure investments. The CCP also has the authority to deploy security personnel to guard any CCP naval vessels docked in the Solomon Islands. This would give the CCP military power, on a large scale, deeper into the Pacific.
Australia believes that once the agreement is signed, the superior strategic location of the Chinese Communist Navy here will pose a threat to the security of Australia, New Zealand, and Hawaii. U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Samuel Paparo has also criticized the security pact, calling it an “act of conspiracy” that worries the United States and its partners.
Incoming U.S. Ambassador to Australia Carolyn Kennedy called for more U.S. diplomacy to counter the growing influence of the CCP and to ensure that it does not use the security pact to gradually militarize some countries.