Sogavare reached an agreement with Beijing in April to provide security assistance. Details of the pact have not been released, but the deal has raised concerns about a permanent Chinese military facility within 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) of Australia’s northeast coast.
He used Thursday’s meeting of Pacific island nation leaders in Fiji to strongly deny that his country would become a Chinese military prop in the South Pacific.
“The moment we set up a military base abroad, we immediately became enemies. And we also place our country and people as targets for potential military attacks,” Sogavare told reporters in the capital, Suva.
“There are no military bases, nor any other military facilities or institutions, in the agreement. And that is a very important point that we continue to reiterate to families in the area,” he added.
Without naming the United States or the Solomons’ key security partner Australia, Mr Sogavare told his parliament in May that opponents of the China treaty threatened his country and insulted it.
Both the United States and Australia have told the Solomon Islands that the country with a Chinese military base will not be tolerated.
The government of new Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has since been elected on the promise of more aid and more engagement with the country’s neighboring island nations.
Sogavare greeted Albanese with a hug on Wednesday at their first face-to-face meeting that took place in Suva during a summit of Pacific Islands Forum leaders. The forum was a gathering of 18 island nations until Kiribati withdrew this week.
Albanese described the meeting as “very constructive”, stressing that “Australia’s interests would not be served by having a military base too close to where Australia is.”
“I welcome his (Sogavare) comments ruling out there is a Chinese base (near) Australia,” Albanese said.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she spoke frankly with Sogavare during Wednesday’s meeting about her concerns about the pact with China. She said the two leaders found “common ground” on the need to limit militarization in the region.
The leaders’ summit has been steeped in geopolitical tensions between China and the United States, both of which demonstrate higher strategic interests in the region.
Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, who hosted the conference, told his counterparts in an opening speech that “the geopolitical and global landscape is fiercely competitive”.
“We are seeing a multipolar system emerge, all calling to shape the world in their favor,” Bainimarama said.
Bainimarama invited US Vice President Kamala Harris to send a virtual address on Wednesday. Her invitation was notable because the forum’s dialogue partners – including the United States, China, Britain and France – were not invited to this year’s summit.
Harris proposed new embassies in Tonga and in Kiribati, a Micronesian state that split from the forum this week.
She also proposed asking the US Congress to triple funding for fisheries assistance to $60 million a year and send the first US envoy to the forum.
Two Chinese embassy defense attaches who were monitoring Harris’s address from the media seat were spotted by a journalist and reported to the police. Police asked them to leave, The Guardian reported.
Forum officials did not respond when media asked if Chinese officials would be allowed to attend.
China’s foreign ministry said the pair did not break any rules when viewing Harris’ speech.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said: “Chinese representatives have been invited to relevant meetings and events.
Both the Solomon Islands and Kiribati recently switched their diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to Beijing. Kiribati’s withdrawal from the forum is being interpreted as an increase in Chinese influence in the region.