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Pacific News Minute: Solomon Island strengthens ties with China with police training

Manasseh Sogavare, Li Keqiang
Mark Schiefelbein/AP
FILE - Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, left, and Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare review an honor guard during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, on Oct. 9, 2019. When China signed a security pact with the Solomon Islands in April, 2022, it raised concerns from the U.S. and its allies that Beijing may be seeking a military outpost in the South Pacific, an area of traditional American naval dominance. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, File)

More than 30 police officers from the Solomon Islands recently traveled to China. They are in the country for training — and it’s the latest sign of deepening ties between the two countries.

Increased cooperation in policing is part of a security deal signed by the two countries earlier this year. A draft of the deal was leaked online in March.

It outlined the broad conditions under which the Solomon Islands could call on China to send in armed police and military personnel.

The Guardian reports the 34 officers will be in China for a month. They will receive training, visit police departments and learn from Chinese police.

Yao Ming is the deputy head of mission at the Chinese embassy in Honiara, the Solomon Islands capital. He says after the police complete their training, the officers would “enhance the friendship between China and the Solomon Islands.”

Australia has provided training to Solomon Islands police and been involved in assisting with security on the islands for decades.

In April, Australia’s spy chief said the government was concerned Chinese police sent to the Solomons could use “ruthless” techniques previously used to quiet anti-government protests in Hong Kong.

Opposition figures in the Solomon Islands have also raised concerns about the deepening of relationships between the police forces. They fear it could allow the prime minister to order Chinese armed police to suppress democratic dissent to hold on to power.

Derrick Malama is the local anchor of Morning Edition.
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