Beijing/Canberra/Wellington: As Australia and New Zealand urged China and Solomon Islands to release the details of their new policing pact, Beijing today claimed the police cooperation agreement signed between China and Solomon Islands “is in line with relevant international law and common practice”.
It may be mentioned that Solomon Islands’ Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, who is on an official visit to China since July 9, 2023, inked several deals with Beijing including an agreement that allows China to maintain a police presence in the developing Pacific nation until 2025. He and Chinese President Xi Jinping also jointly announced the establishment of a comprehensive strategic partnership between the two nations.
In a joint statement yesterday, China and Solomon Islands, among other things, mentioned an agreement to enhance cooperation on law enforcement and security matters. “The Chinese side will continue to provide support and help to Solomon Islands as needed in strengthening Solomon Islands’ police law enforcement capacity,” it stated. The Chinese side further reaffirmed its “staunch support for the Solomon Islands’ nation-building process and to choose a development path suited to its national conditions and in upholding its sovereignty, security and development interests”.
The two sides also joined hands to urge “relevant countries” (read the AUKUS nations – Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States) to “fulfil their international obligations and prudently handle issues such as the discharge of nuclear-contaminated water and cooperation on a nuclear submarine.
While Australia today interpreted the pact as a tool to “invite further regional contest”, New Zealand demanded the text of the pact to be made public “in order to understand any security implications for the region”.
In Beijing, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin today described the police and law enforcement cooperation with the Solomon Islands as an “important part of our bilateral cooperation”. According to Wenbin, the pact has played a positive role in promoting the security and stability of the Solomon Islands.
“China firmly supports Solomon Islands in achieving long-term peace and stability and will continue to provide support and assistance to the best of our capacity on the basis of the will and needs of Solomon Islands,” he said.
Much is in the air after Sogavare switched diplomatic relations from Taipei to Beijing, which invited praise from Chinese Premier Li Qiang who earlier this week hailed the decision as “the correct choice that confirms the trend of the times”. The Solomon Islands side reaffirmed that it opposes “Taiwan Independence” in all forms and that it firmly supports all efforts made by the Chinese government to realize national reunification. Sogavare further supported China’s position on issues related to Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and Tibet, and opposed interference by any country in the internal affairs of China “under the pretext of democracy or human rights”.
Both Solomon Islands – one of the poorest Pacific Island nations, and China further agreed to promote high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, and jointly implement the Global Development Initiative, the Global Security Initiative and the Global Civilization Initiative, among other things. The two sides signed multiple cooperation documents in the fields of development cooperation, trade, infrastructure development, civil aviation, education, police affairs, customs and meteorology.
Sogavare also met Premier Li Qiang and the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China, Zhao Leji. He will remain in China till July 15, 2023, and will also travel to Jiangsu and Guangdong.
– global bihari bureau