Solomon Islands Prime Minister ups ante in criticism of Australia while praising China during tirade in parliament

The Solomon Islands Prime Minister has launched a tirade in parliament, suggesting Australia and its allies are deliberately trying to undermine his government, criticising the Western response to Russia’s invasion and praising China’s treatment of Christians.

Manasseh Sogavare has also ratcheted up his criticism of civil society groups in Solomon Islands, suggesting that they are being manipulated by foreign countries and declaring they have “fallen prey to the Western world”.

The Prime Minister’s furious denunciation of the West — which was delivered to the parliament of Solomon Islands yesterday — has consolidated fears in Canberra about the trajectory of Mr Sogavare’s government, with one official telling the ABC the leader is becoming increasingly autocratic and hostile to Australia after signing a security pact with China. 

Civil society groups in Solomon Islands have criticised the security pact, and say they are concerned by the prospect of Chinese troops or police entering Solomon Islands to suppress future protests.

But Mr Sogavare told parliament those activists were “racists” and “bigots” deeply hostile to China who were being manipulated by “foreign masters”.

“What we are concerned with … is the glaring hypocrisy which bleeds through the strategies employed by some of our partners, working with some of their agents on the ground, to give the government a hard time for non-justifiable reasons,” he said.

Mr Sogavare also appeared to mock Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, who referred to Solomon Islands as a “little Cuba” after news of the draft security treaty broke.

Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with Solomon Islands' Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare in Beijing.
Manasseh Sogavare met Xi Jinping in person during a visit to Beijing in 2019.(AFP: Xinhua/Yao Dawei)

That seemed to be a reference to the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, when the United States put up a naval blockade to prevent the Soviet Union from building nuclear missile silos in Cuba, close to US shores.

Mr Sogavare said the USSR was “not the aggressor” during the 1962 crisis and drew a comparison to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year.

“There [are] two sides to every situation we see happening in the world today, including the Ukraine crisis, where the Western world is trying to get every nation to condemn,” he said.

“There [are] two sides to every story.”

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