Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare of the Solomon Islands announced that his country is ready to sign a security agreement with China. Sogavare disclosed that the Solomons would not allow the construction of a Chinese military base as part of the security deal, a concern that the West has previously expressed due to the Chinese’s expansionist rhetoric in the region.

“Government is conscious of the security ramification of hosting a military base, and it will not be careless to allow such initiative to take place under its watch,” a statement said.

Sogavare has not released further details on the agreement. However, a draft of the confidential agreement was leaked last week, indicating that Beijing will be allowed to construct and operate military bases in the country, which is approximately 1,050 miles (1,700 kilometers) off the northeastern coast of Australia.

The possibility of Chinese militarization in the area raised concerns within the region’s powers, Australia and New Zealand. Note that the Solomon Islands previously had good diplomatic relations with Taiwan until 2019, when the Solomons defected and switched to China through a resolution. This was conveniently followed by a donation of $8.5 million in development funds from China.