Chinese President Xi Jinping attends the signing ceremony of documents concerning the further development and cooperation between Russia and China at the Moscow Kremlin, Russia, 21 March 2023. EFE-EPA FILE/VLADIMIR ASTAPKOVICH / SPUTNIK / KREMLIN POOL MANDATORY CREDIT

China will help ensure Solomon Islands’ stability, says Xi

Beijing, Jul 11 (EFE).- China’s leader has assured his Solomon Islands counterpart that Beijing will ensure the development and long-term stability of the Pacific island nation, state news agency Xinhua reported Tuesday.

Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands Manasseh Damukana Sogavare at a bilateral meeting with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (not pictured) at Parliament House in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia, 14 August 2017. EFE-EPA FILE/MICK TSIKAS AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT

China and the Solomon Islands signed a security agreement in 2022, which caused concern for Australia, New Zealand and the United States due to the possibility that the treaty would allow the construction of a Chinese military base in the South Pacific nation, a scenario denied by Honiara.

President Xi Jinping told Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare in a meeting in Beijing on Monday that China and the Solomon Islands are “trustworthy friends” and that the 2019 establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries after Solomon Islands severed ties with Taiwan was “a correct choice” that “serves fundamental interests of the two peoples,” Xinhua reported.

It said the pair jointly announced the official establishment of a comprehensive strategic partnership.

Xi said China hopes to “strengthen coordination and cooperation” with the Solomons and to “jointly oppose the Cold War mentality and hegemonism, and safeguard peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.”

China fully respects the “sovereignty and independence,” “will,” “cultural traditions” and “unity and self-reliance” of Pacific island countries, Xi said, adding that China is willing to “strengthen exchanges and cooperation” with these nations in areas such as meteorological services and natural disaster prevention.

According to Xinhua, Sogavare said the Solomons is willing to “strengthen exchanges and cooperation in trade, investment, cultural and sub-national areas, and jointly respond to global challenges such as climate change.”

He agreed with Xi that the establishment of relations with Beijing was a “correct choice” and asserted that bilateral ties have already yielded “fruitful outcomes.”

China’s former foreign minister Wang Yi made a 10-day tour of the Pacific last spring and signed several bilateral agreements.

Australia, New Zealand and the US warned against China’s expansion in the region, which also worries other nations that maintain alliances with Taiwan such as Palau, Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands and Nauru. EFE