China strengthens ties in the Solomon Islands

Foreign Affairs

Leaked documents detailing a new security pact between China and the Solomon Islands are a worry for Western allies.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi shakes hands with Solomon Islands Foreign Minister Jeremiah Manele on September 21, 2019. Sheng Jiapeng/CNS via Reuters Connect.

U.S.-allied countries — New Zealand and Australia in particular — are worried about a new security pact between China and the Solomon Islands, after documents leaked last week indicated that China could boost its military presence in the South Pacific island nation.

  • The Solomon Islands confirmed on March 25 that it was partnering with China to tackle security threats and create a safe environment for investment.
  • “We see such acts as a potential militarization of the region and also see very little reason in terms of the Pacific security for such a need and such a presence,” New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday.
  • “Relevant countries should earnestly respect Solomon Islands’ sovereignty and its independent decisions instead of deciding what others should and should not do self-importantly and condescendingly from a privileged position,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wāng Wénbīn 汪文斌 said when asked about the matter.

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China’s growing influence in the Pacific Island nation — which is seen as a critical point of control in the Indo-Pacific and which U.S. allies Australia and New Zealand have for decades seen as their “backyard” — has been a source of anxiety for many Western nations over the last few years.

Nadya Yeh