Pacific News Minute: Solomon Islands PM wants to increase security ties with China
The Solomon Islands prime minister says he wants China to play a permanent role in training police in his country. It’s another sign that he intends to increase security ties with the world power.
Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare recently attended a graduation ceremony for Royal Solomon Islands Police Force members who received riot control training from Chinese police.
He announced that China donated police cars, motorcycles and drones valued at nearly $3 million.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation quotes the Solomon Islands Police Minister as saying China may even establish a new training center for local officers in the country’s capital of Honiara.
Australia has always been the major provider of police training in the Solomon Islands. Australian officials have publicly expressed their uneasiness about China's growing cooperation with police in the Solomons.
They warn that Beijing might encourage local officers to use more violent tactics.
The Solomon Islands has been plagued by riots and disorder over the last three decades. Australia sent police officers and troops last November when Honiara was rocked by looting and rioting.
Although Australian police suppressed the riots, Prime Minister Sogavare has since repeatedly accused Australia of refusing to protect Chinatown and projects financed by the Chinese government.
Australia has denied the accusation. It has also been alarmed by a security pact signed by the Solomon Islands and China, fearing it could allow Beijing to establish a military presence in the islands.