China, Solomon Islands ink comprehensive strategic partnership
Xi’s remarks to guide future cooperation with Pacific Island countries: experts
Published: Jul 10, 2023 11:31 PM
Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with visiting Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands Manasseh Sogavare at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, July 10, 2023. Photo: Xinhua

Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with visiting Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands Manasseh Sogavare at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, July 10, 2023. Photo: Xinhua

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday afternoon met with visiting Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands Manasseh Sogavare in Beijing. The two sides jointly announced the official establishment of a comprehensive strategic partnership featuring mutual respect and common development for a new era, with experts saying that China's successful relations with the Solomon Islands have set an example to guide future cooperation between China and the Pacific Island countries.  

Xi said at the meeting with the visiting prime minister of the Solomon Islands that as China and Pacific Island countries are all developing countries, they should strengthen mutual help and assistance under the framework of South-South cooperation.

Xi pointed out that China fully respects the sovereignty and independence of Pacific Island countries, and upholds the equality of all countries, big or small. China fully respects the will of Pacific Island countries and pursues extensive consultation, joint contribution, shared benefits and win-win results. China fully respects the cultural traditions of Pacific Island countries, and adheres to harmony in diversity and shared beauty of diverse cultures. 

China fully respects the unity and self-reliance of Pacific Island countries, and supports them in implementing the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent, contributing to the building of a peaceful, harmonious, secure, inclusive and prosperous Blue Pacific, said the Chinese president..

Chen Hong, executive director at the Asia Pacific Studies Center of East China Normal University, told the Global Times on Monday that the president's remarks show a clear attitude, as well as a principle of China's policy toward the Pacific Island countries like the Solomon Islands - mutual respect and equal relations between developing countries.

China's policy is very different from those of the US and some of its allies in the region, which are guided by ideology and a Cold War mentality, while Washington always prioritizes its own interests and uses ties with Pacific Island countries to serve its strategy of containing and competing with China, and does not care about the true benefits and concerns of the regional nations, experts said. 

China-Solomon Islands friendly cooperation has been at the forefront of China's relations with Pacific Island countries and has become a model of unity, cooperation and joint development between countries of different sizes and developing countries, Xi told Sogavare on Mon, saying that China is willing to share the development opportunities brought about by Chinese modernization with the Solomon Islands, expand imports of advantageous products from the Solomon Islands and help it achieve revitalization, stability and long-term prosperity. 

China understands the severe challenges of climate change that the Pacific Island countries are facing, and is willing to strengthen exchanges and cooperation with these countries in fields including meteorological services, disaster relief and clean energy, Xi said.

China is willing to strengthen coordination with the Solomon Islands, uphold real multilateralism, safeguard international justice and fairness and jointly oppose Cold War mentality and hegemony, and safeguard the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region, Xi remarked. 

Analysts said Xi's remarks show that China fully understands the real concerns shared by the region, and the cooperation with the regional countries is driven by the need to solve real problems rather than the needs of "great power competition," so it's very natural and reasonable that China will be increasingly welcomed in the region despite US disruption. 

Determination of Solomon Islands 

Sogavare said at the meeting with Xi that establishing diplomatic ties with China is the correct choice, and bilateral relations have seen fruitful achievements. China has become the Solomon Islands' biggest partner in the field of infrastructure cooperation and a trustworthy partner for development.

Sogavare praised the Global Development Initiative, the Global Security Initiative and the Global Civilization Initiative, which were proposed by Xi, saying that the initiatives show remarkable vision and outstanding leadership.

The Solomon Islands will firmly support the one-China principle and is willing to boost senior level exchanges with China, and to strengthen communication and cooperation in the fields of trade, investment, people-to-people and local exchanges, and will jointly deal with global challenges including climate change, said the prime minister. He said the Solomon Islands opposes any move aimed at containing China's development.

From establishing diplomatic ties with China in 2019 to signing the security pact in 2022, then to Sogavare's current visit, "the Solomon Islands has shown its determination to defend its national sovereignty and is striving to get rid of being controlled regardless of the pressure from the US and its allies like Australia," Niu Li, executive director of the Pacific Research Center at Beijing Foreign Studies University, told the Global Times on Monday.

Speaking at the first high-level conference of the Forum on Global Action for Shared Development on Monday, Sogavare said that the world is facing intertwined crises such as the post-COVID impact, conflicts and climate change, which gave the forum a stronger sense of mission and responsibility. 

Sogavare noted that we need to transcend the idea of using ideology and geopolitics to divide the world, stay united and keep exploring creative cooperation roads to narrow the gap between rich and poor. The prime minister also proposed using the Belt and Road Initiative to share development experience, so as to transform countries' potential into prosperity. 

The reaffirmation of strategic cooperation between China and the Solomon Islands will encourage other Pacific Island countries to cooperate with China, said Niu. "The China-Solomon Islands cooperation will serve as a model for other Pacific Island countries, which have come under long-standing bullying and control of the US-led Western powers, to defend their national sovereignty and autonomy," Niu said.