The Chinese foreign minister is to make a “milestone” visit this week, the Solomon Islands government said in a statement on Monday.
Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi’s (王毅) trip comes at a time of heightened US and Australian concern over China’s intentions in the South Pacific.
The statement was issued on the day that Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was sworn into office.
Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare said Wang’s one-day visit at the head of a nearly 20-strong delegation would be a “milestone” in the countries’ ties.
Sogavare said he looked forward to a “productive engagement with Beijing, “an important development partner at a very critical time in our history.”
Wang would sign “a number” of agreements with the Solomon Islands, the statement said, without mentioning the security pact.
Washington and Canberra fear that the security deal — details of which have not been released — could lead to China gaining a military foothold in the South Pacific.
An earlier, leaked draft of the security deal between China and the Solomon Islands included measures that would allow Chinese naval deployments to the Pacific island nation, which lies less than 2,000km from Australia.
The Chinese minister would spend one day in Honiara visiting Sogavare and holding a joint news conference with Solomon Islands Minister of Foreign Affairs Jeremiah Manele.
No date was given for Wang’s trip, scheduled for “later this week.”
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