Canberra: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison started his visit to the Solomon Islands with precise words ‘The Solomon Islands is the closest member in the Australian family in the Pacific. To increase the influence in the Pacific, it is necessary to show your presence. Therefore, my first official foreign visit after the elections is to the Australian neighbours and I am very satisfied with it. Australia is always ready and enthusiastic to bring about a change in this region.’
The re-election of the liberal party leader Scott Morrison, in the Australian elections, is considered to be a major jolt for China. Morrison, in his first term itself, had taken bold decisions against China and had issued a clear warning that the Chinese interference in Australia as well as in the Pacific region will not be tolerated. Even during the election campaign, he created a sensation referring to China asa ‘Customer’.The disregard shown by the Australian leadership, despite China being the largest trading partner of Australia did not go down well with China.
Thereafter, China issued warnings to Australia regarding the cooperation in the trade, investment and other sectors. But Morrison, who became the Prime Minister successively for the second time has does not pay any heed to the Chinese threat, which is evident from his first foreign visit. China had used forced financial aid to increase its influence in the Asia-Pacific region. China had started frantic efforts to turn the smaller countries in the region,on its side, using financial aid as a tool.
But countries like Australia, the United States, Japan and New Zealand started retaliating, objecting strongly to the Chinese activities. Japan and New Zealand checked China announcing various schemes and even financial assistance for the countries in the Pacific region. At the same time, Australia openly challenged the Chinese expansion plans announcing a policy like ‘Step Up Pacific’. The selection of a country like the Solomon Islands, by Morrison, for his first visit after re-election, is also a part of the same policy.
Morrison who reached the Solomon Islands on Sunday, met Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, on Monday. Morrison announced a financial aid of $250 million, over the next decade, for the Solomon Islands. This assistance is being given to the Solomon Islands for development of infrastructural facilities and provides an impetus to sports and employment creation.