All nations have equal rights, no matter how small their size and population. The security treaty the Solomon Islands plans to forge with China is a matter of sovereignty and perceived as being of mutual benefit. Yet it has caused concern for Australia, New Zealand and the United States, worried that Beijing’s growing influence in the South Pacific is threatening their traditional regional dominance. But with the Cold War having long ended and governments free to choose alliances and partners, such thinking is outdated and disrespectful. Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare said as much in parliament recently when confirming the deal, contending it was “very insulting to be branded as unfit to manage our sovereign affairs or have other motives in pursuing our national interest”. Under the agreement, which has still to be formally worded and signed, Chinese police, military and other armed forces could be stationed for reasons including assisting in “maintaining social order”. China-Solomons pact ‘does not target third party’ but Australia unconvinced Warships would also be able to stop at the islands and replenish supplies, which prompted Western speculation that Beijing also intended to establish a naval base. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called the draft deal a “great concern”, a position echoed by his New Zealand counterpart, Jacinda Ardern, while a US State Department spokesman said there was no need for Beijing to export its “security forces and methods”. Sogavare said no Chinese base would be built and that the pact was about diversification of security partnerships. Australian police have been in the capital, Honiara, since November 2019, when riots broke out between rival island groups; a bilateral security treaty was struck in 2017 under which police, troops and support workers can be deployed to quell unrest. Chinese police are already on the islands conducting a training exercise. Beijing has good reason to want security forces in the Solomons and elsewhere in the South Pacific; it is the region’s biggest trading partner, investor and builder of infrastructure, and second to Australia for development aid. China and Solomon Islands agree wide-ranging security deal Chinese interests include fisheries and mineral resources and it has also been chipping away at island nations that recognise Taipei. Honiara’s switching diplomatic recognition of China to Beijing in 2019 was in part a reason for the country’s unrest, which included attacks on ethnic Chinese businesses. The Solomons and China have interests that need protecting and it is for them to decide how that is to be done. But to avoid misunderstanding among populations and allay geopolitical concerns, they need deep knowledge of motives and should ensure transparency when striking deals.