Solomons Police Officers Heading to China for Month of ‘Training’

Solomons Police Officers Heading to China for Month of ‘Training’
China's ambassador to the Solomon Islands Li Ming (R), and Solomons Prime Pinister Manasseh Sogavare are cutting a ribbon during the opening ceremony of a China-funded national stadium complex in Honiara on April 22, 2022. (Mavis Podokolo/AFP via Getty Images)
Daniel Y. Teng

The Solomon Islands has dispatched 32 officers to China for training in policing techniques and to improve their understanding of Chinese culture.

The officers will visit different police stations in China during the visit, according to a statement from the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force obtained by Reuters.

Officers will stay in the country for one month.

Police training has been a key area in Beijing’s efforts to build bilateral relations with the Solomon Islands government, with training ramping up following riots in the Solomons capital Honiara where much of the Chinatown precinct was burned down by protestors upset with Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare.

While Australia, Fiji, and New Zealand also dispatched troops to help quell the unrest, Beijing leveraged the opportunity to dispatch “trainers” to conduct regular courses for Solomons police.

A contentious security deal was also signed off in April 2022 between Beijing, and the Solomons’, ushering in more training. The agreement also triggered concerns from developed nations as it opened the door for gradual militarisation of the region by allowing Beijing to station troops, weapons, and naval ships in the country.

Solomons Deepening Ties With Beijing

Meanwhile, Solomons Prime Minister Sogavare has reiterated that Australia remains the Pacific country’s security partner of choice.

Yet Malcolm Davis, of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute said Sogavare was unlikely to resist overtures from Beijing.

“They came in with suitcases of money to ensure that he and the people around him would support an extension of his position, his role as prime minister,” he told AAP.
Sogavare has overtly deepened ties with Beijing in recent months, notably with the signing of a deal to borrow 448.9 million yuan (US$66.15 million) from the Chinese state-owned Export-Import Bank of China to fund the construction of 161 towers by telecommunications giant Huawei.

Defence expert Michael Shoebridge questioned the need for another major telecommunications player in the region when it is already serviced by market leader Digicel Pacific, now owned by Australia’s Telstra. Huawei is banned from the 5G networks of several developed countries, including Australia.

“This deal is a demonstration that Beijing is moving fast and in a big, broad way to create more leverage over the Solomon Islands government,” he previously told The Epoch Times.

“It also shows Prime Minister Sogavare wants a broad, deep relationship with China. And it undercuts the value of his continued assurances that the partnership he’s building with Beijing will not have a major security component,” he added.

Daniel Y. Teng is based in Brisbane, Australia. He focuses on national affairs including federal politics, COVID-19 response, and Australia-China relations. Got a tip? Contact him at [email protected].
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