Solomon Islands PM Manasseh Sogavare reviews the honour guard during a welcome ceremony with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Wednesday. Thomas Peter/ Reuters
Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare met Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing on Wednesday and signed several agreements in the first official visit since the two countries established diplomatic relations last month.
The new diplomatic relationship is a sign of China’s growing influence in the Pacific and a setback for self-ruled, democratic Taiwan. The Solomon Islands severed ties with Taiwan when it established them with Beijing.
“I am pleased to recognise the one China policy ... We are pleased to be on the right side of history and normalise relations with the People’s Republic of China,” Sogavare said ahead of a meeting with Li and a Chinese delegation.
China has in recent years been expanding its influence in the Pacific to the alarm of the United States and its main regional ally, Australia.
China and the Solomon Islands signed an agreement to work together on President Xi Jinping’s flagship foreign policy initiative, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), as well as others on economic and education strategies.
After the Solomon Islands recognised Beijing, US Vice President Mike Pence declined a request from the Solomon Islands leader to meet to discuss cooperation.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing Wen said last month the end of its diplomatic relations with the Solomon Islands was further evidence of Chinese efforts to meddle in Taiwan’s January elections.
Australia is to fund a $250 million (US$173 million) grants programme for the Solomon Islands, according to reports on Monday, as Canberra confronts a growing Chinese influence in the region.
“We owe our achievements last year to the strong leadership of the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core,” Li said in an hour-long speech to over 5,000 delegates gathered in the Great Hall of the People, all of them inoculated against COVID-19 with a vaccine made by China’s Sinopharm.
China needs to make better use of its various policy tools to boost the economy, Premier Li Keqiang said on Thursday. All possible means will be used to lower real interest rates,
China, which views democratically governed Taiwan as its own territory, has over the past three years regularly flown its air force into the skies near the island, though not into Taiwan's territorial air space.
Representatives from various UN agencies in Ukraine are in Kherson to assess the impact of the destruction of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant dam and coordinate the humanitarian response.
The deadly accident took place on Wednesday evening in Sayad district due to reckless driving and the victims comprised 12 women, eight children and four men, the spokesman said, adding that only a woman survived but was badly injured,