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.
Solomon Islands police were maintaining an uneasy calm in the capital Honiara on Thursday, a day after more than 50 people were arrested in riots following the contested election of prime minister Manasseh Sogavare.
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
The passengers were heading from the capital Honiara to West Are'are, more than 120 kilometres (75 miles) away, under a government programme to evacuate people to their home villages during the global coronavirus epidemic.
Eyewitnesses and local media reported crowds had defied a government lockdown to take to the streets. Live images showed several buildings engulfed in flames and plumes of thick black smoke billowing high above the capital.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Wednesday ordered police and troops to join an international peacekeeping mission in the crisis-hit Solomon Islands following deadly anti-government riots.
The Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, Wang Wenbin, said on Tuesday that “the foreign ministers of China and the Solomon Islands officially signed the framework agreement on security cooperation recently.” The details of the
The deal shocked the Solomon Islands' traditional allies Australia and the United States, which fear it may give China a military foothold in the South Pacific less than 2,000 kilometres (1,200 miles) from Australia's coast.
The security pact, which China and the Solomons confirmed last week, has also alarmed neighboring countries and Western allies, including Japan, that fear a military buildup in the region.