Solomon Islands say China’s foreign minister will arrive this week to sign pacts

The Solomon Islands government and Chinese ambassador confirmed the visit on Monday, with Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare calling it a milestone.

“Prime Minister Sogavare looks forward to productive engagement with the PRC as a key development partner at a very critical time in our history,” the government said in a statement.

Wang and a delegation of 20 officials from Beijing are expected to arrive mid-week and spend a Honiara day, attending meetings and paying a courtesy visit to Sogavare. He will also hold a joint press conference with Secretary of State Jeremiah Manele.

“The highlight of the visit is the signing of a number of important bilateral agreements with the national government,” the government statement said.

While in the Solomon Islands, Wang will sign the security pact that has sparked concern among Western allies who fear it will push China to establish a military presence in the Pacific. The pact has become a major campaign issue in neighboring Australia. Newly elected Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he would make his country “less secure”.

Beijing said the security deal will not affect regional security and will only cover internal policing.

Solomon Islands politicians said trade deals with China are also likely to be signed this week.

In a video shared on social media on Monday evening, Australia’s new foreign minister, Penny Wong, said she would soon visit the Pacific islands and pledged Australia’s cooperation on climate change and deepening defense and maritime cooperation.

Quadruple leaders from Australia, the United States, Japan and India will meet in Tokyo on Tuesday. They are expected to discuss the Pacific and announce an initiative to combat illegal fishing in the Pacific using satellite tracking technology, the Financial Times reported on Saturday.

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