UNITED States (US) Deputy Secretary Defence Randall Shriver says US is not in a position to tell Solomon Islands to avoid China as a close partner.
Mr Shriver made the statement when asked by local media during his recent visit to Solomon Islands.
When asked if a discussion is made with the government of Solomon Islands on the status of influence by China he said they have only discussed broadly in terms of political dynamics of the region right now.
Mr Shriver said the US always respects the sovereignty of its partners and will not make decisions for them.
He said they also have relationship with China and that they will not make decisions for other countries.
“Every country makes its own sovereign choices and we have our own relationship with China. We are not coming to any other country to say you should not have a close relationship with China or you shouldn’t have economic relationship with China,” he added.
But Mr Shriver said they also briefly talked about some of the past experiences where those relationships have not worked out well for the recipient countries.
Meanwhile, in his speech at the recent APEC in PNG, US Vice President Mike Pence said US has great respect for China but China has taken advantage of that respect.
“China has taken advantage of the United States for many, many years and those days are now over,” he said.
Mr Pence said the United States seeks a better relationship with China based on fairness, reciprocity and respect for sovereignty.
“China knows where we stand. But as President Trump has said, we want to strengthen the relationship between our two countries and improve the lives of our citizens,” he added.
“China has an honoured place in our vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific if it chooses to respect its neighbours’ sovereignty; embrace free, fair and reciprocal trade; uphold human rights and freedom.
“The American people want nothing more; the Chinese people and the entire Indo-Pacific deserve nothing less,” he added.
By IAN MCDONALD