The Solomon Islands is situated in the Southwestern Pacific Ocean, and a chain of islands makes up the nation. It was a British protectorate before gaining independence as a republic in 1978. It is a relatively minor actor on the international stage. They have less than ten embassies and two consulates worldwide. The capital city of Honiara has seven embassies and two high commissions. With such a small footprint, witnessing China welcoming its embassy in Beijing is interesting. The two nations are also discussing security and disaster management pacts.
In 2014, President Xi Jinping visited Fiji, another island nation in the South Pacific Ocean. President Xi held meetings with the leaders of eight countries who have diplomatic relations with China. Historically, The Southern Pacific island nations have been under American or Australian political influence. But within the last decade, China has chipped away at their impact, slowly building bilateral ties and power with the micronations. It has expanded economic relations with these nations and increased financial aid. The island nations are lingering with post-colonial poverty. China has been assisting since the 1970s and has climbed the ranks to be one of the major donors. However, the ties also help China in its regional economic development and integration goals.
Manasseh Sogavare, the Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands, visited Beijing on July 9th, 2023. He met Li Qiang, the Secretary of the Shanghai Communist Party. Experts commented that he is a close confidante of President Xi. In this visit, both nations signed a deal for a "comprehensive strategic partnership”. The Xinhua Agency, representing China, confirmed that the agreement addresses enhancing the island's police personnel capacity. Prime Minister Sogavare also met with President Xi. He assured Sogavare that the state supports more Chinese firms investing in the island. He further assured that China will continue providing financial and technical assistance without interfering in domestic and political issues. Before China, Australia had a treaty with the Solomon Islands, providing them with law enforcement officers since 2017. Prime Minister Sogavare abruptly called for a review of the treaty.
Along with providing police support to the Solomon Islands, China's investments in the Southern Pacific islands have steadily increased. Between 2003 to 2012, they invested more than $700 million. Fiji, Samoa, and Papua New Guinea received 200 to 300 million investments. China pulled all the stops in its relations with the island nations, engaging in the Pacific Island Forum, a multilateral institution. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs , the interaction with Pacific Islands is manifold. Apart from helping with economic factors, China also assisted by opening hospitals during COVID and helping them battle climate change. Prime Minister Sogavare commented that China is the island's good friend who can help them achieve many things. He added that China stood by the people of Solomon Islands. The partnership is based on equality and mutual respect for sovereignty. This strategic partnership is uplifting for the Solomon Islands.
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