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Security talks between China and Solomon Islands are causing tension with Australia, U.S.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, left, and Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare
Mark Schiefelbein/AP
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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, Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, File)

While much of the world remains focused on Ukraine, another area of concern for the U.S. is the Solomon Islands. A security agreement between China and the Solomon Islands is causing tension with Australia and the U.S.

In April, the U.S. sent two top officials to the Solomon Islands following a visit by an Australian senator over concerns that China could establish a military presence in the South Pacific island nation. The move came after the Solomons and China initialed a draft agreement of a security pact.

The draft, which was leaked online, says Chinese warships could stop in the Solomons and China could send police and armed forces there "to assist in maintaining social order."

Tarcisius Kabutaulaka, an associate professor with the Center for Pacific Island Studies at the University of Hawaiʻi, is from the Solomons. He believes there’s been a lot of recent tough talk between the prime ministers of the Solomons and Australia. Kabutaulaka helped The Conversation to unpack the strained diplomatic relations in the area.

This interview aired on The Conversation on May 5, 2022. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at ccruz@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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