Solomon Islands' PM to visit China, to elevate ties to new heights
Published: Jun 25, 2024 10:42 PM
National flags of China and Solomon Islands Photo: VCG

National flags of China and Solomon Islands Photo: VCG

Describing the upcoming China visit as a potential "highlight" of Solomon Islands Prime Minister Jeremiah Manele's inaugural overseas trip, which also includes stops in Australia and Japan, Chinese analysts anticipate that the visit will further strengthen bilateral ties to higher levels, building upon the substantial progress that has already been achieved.

The new leader of Solomon Islands has announced he will visit China to "reaffirm" his commitment to working with Beijing, AFP reported on Monday.

Manele is heading to China following a week-long trip to Australia, his office said in a statement received on Monday. The Pacific leader will tour China from early July, meeting with the Chinese leadership in Beijing as well as visiting the provinces of Fujian and Shandong, it said.

"Manele wishes to use the visit to further strengthen the bilateral relations between the two countries and reaffirm his government's commitment to working with China in areas of mutual interest," read the AFP report. 

The China trip by the new leader of the island nation can enhance bilateral relations and promote mutual understanding among Chinese and Solomon Islands' leaders, said Chen Hong, director of the Australian Studies Center of East China Normal University.

Since establishing diplomatic relations, both sides have achieved significant results in mutually beneficial cooperation in various areas such as economy and trade, society, politics, and law enforcement, Chen told the Global Times on Tuesday.

There is enormous potential for further cooperation between the two countries, such as strengthening cooperation in agriculture, fisheries, infrastructure, and software improvements, as well as in tourism development, Chen revealed.

Considering that the Pacific island country has long been plagued by poverty, limited economic levels, infrastructure constraints, and underdeveloped living standards, bilateral cooperation aims to improve local conditions and create conditions for further strengthening economic and trade cooperation, the expert continued.

Western media has been closely following Manele since he took office, with some outlets hyping that he appears to be continuing the pro-China line. 

After assuming office as the new prime minister in May, Manele has reaffirmed his support for the one-China principle and expressed his "deep appreciation" for Chinese investment and aid, Reuters reported.

Manele's China-related statements are based on an objective recognition and accurate judgment of the future, which demonstrates the leader's strategic foresight in the face of pressure from and demonization by the US-led Western clique, Chen commented.

Chinese analysts refuted the US-led West's attempts to distort some of the mutually beneficial and equal bilateral cooperation between China and the Solomon Islands as being of a military nature. 

Those smears are based on their old colonial or imperialistic mindset and are aimed at undermining China's mutually beneficial cooperation with the South Pacific region, they pointed out.

Manele's predecessor Manasseh Sogavare established diplomatic ties with China in 2019 and signed a security pact with Beijing in 2022 based on mutual respect and equal relations. The developments alarmed the US and its Pacific allies, including Australia.

Cooperation between China and the region will not be swayed by those slanders and will continue to deepen and strengthen, Chen said.

After visiting neighbor Australia, Manele is choosing to travel to China, followed by a Tokyo trip from July 16-18 for a meeting with other Pacific leaders. The China visit is expected to be the "highlight" of the leader's first overseas trip, Chen said. This also demonstrates the Solomon Islands' inclusive approach to foreign relations, he said.