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Solomons’ PM signs new deals with China

Friday 14 July 2023 | Written by RNZ | Published in Regional, Solomon Islands


Solomons’ PM signs new deals with China
Wang Yi, China's Foreign Affairs minister and Manasseh Sogavare, the prime minister of Solomon Islands, jointly unveil the nameplate of the Solomon Islands embassy in Beijing. Photo: ZHAI JIANLAN/XINHUA

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has defended China saying its strategic interests are misunderstood.

Sogavare has been visiting China this week and signed a number of agreements - including a police cooperation deal which has triggered concern - as well as opening the Solomon Islands embassy in Beijing.

Voice of America reported in response to the signing of the agreements, the US and Australia have urged Beijing and Honiara to release details of the policing deal.

The agreements he mentioned at the opening include a bilateral framework of cooperation, formalising a non-reciprocal trade arrangement, taking part in the first high-level forum on shared action for global development; and signing a biosecurity arrangement including aviation arrangements to facilitate movement of people and goods and services.

Sogavare told Chinese media the partnership with "your great country China" is the way to go forward.

"It is really unfortunate... all the nonsense we are hearing is basically that, a misunderstanding of what China is doing," he said.

"China has no other strategic interests other than Taiwan and, of course, the South China Sea.

"Any country in the world will not be comfortable if you start to intrude into areas which are seen as existential threats by any country. And China is no different."

China and the US have been in a geopolitical power struggle for influence in the Pacific for some time.

But Sogavare also reiterated the Pacific is not owned by anyone.

"Solomon Islands and other Pacific island countries are not [the] backyard of any other country.

"We are sovereign nations and capable of making our own decisions."