Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton on Sunday accused China of bribing him to win international agreements, but declined to say whether corruption played a role in the controversial defense deal recently signed between Beijing and the Solomon Islands.
“The Chinese are not playing by our rules,” Dutton told Sky News Australia.
“If you look at what happened in Africa, corruption has paid off,” he continued. “We can never compete with this kind of practice. We have values, we have the rule of law and we respect them.
“The truth is that China has changed,” the minister continued. “China’s incredibly aggressive foreign interventions, its willingness to bribe other countries to sign agreements: this is the reality of modern China”.
Asked if he thought China had done so with the Solomon Islands, which announced a vague security agreement with Beijing last week, Mr Dutton declined to comment. The agreement has rekindled fears of Australia’s neighbor and archipelago ally, but the United States.
Canberra and Washington have long been concerned about the possibility of building a naval base in China’s South Pacific.
The Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands, Manasseh Chowdhury, has repeatedly said that there will be no Chinese military base in his country, without convincing the United States that he will “retaliate” if he does not keep that promise.
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