—By H.E. Ambassador Li Ming
Recently, there has been lots of reports and comments about the security cooperation between China and Solomon Islands. It is necessary for the Chinese Embassy to explain and clarify when questions and even misinformation arise in the relations between China and SI. To that end, there is another Q&A statement on the website of the Chinese Embassy. Hopefully, respected readers in Solomon Islands could find some useful information there.
In this article, if I may, I would like to draw your kind attention to a much broader picture of relationship between China and Solomon Islands.
As the largest developing country and permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, China has always committed itself to the security and development of the world, particularly for developing nations.
Under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, there has been more than 800 million population lifted out of poverty in the past 40 years in China. And China is the second largest economy in the world. The human rights of the Chinese people are well protected and exponentially improved to new high. China’s success story has inspired many developing countries because they are also seeking a better life and even basic human rights of existence caused by severe challenges such as climate change. For most countries in the world, development and security are two sides of a coin, closely connected with and supported each other. Based on China’s experience, economic development can only be achieved in a safe social environment. And the best approach for long-term security of a country is through sustainable and equitable economic growth.
In the past two and half years since China and Solomon Islands entered into diplomatic relationship, China has made important contributions to both economic development and social stability of SI. Our cooperation covers wide areas, including trade, investment, infrastructure, agriculture, education, tourism, climate change, policing, etc.. Following is some examples.
1)The Stadium Project is progressing well. Thanks to the hard work of Chinese& SI engineers and workers, despite riot in November 2021 and COVID-19 outbreak earlier this year, the running track and football field are completed and ready for handover shortly. This high-standard running track will help sportsmen and sportswomen of Solomon Islands to reach high expectations and bring in more medals. In the near future, the outstanding Solomon Islands Football team may also use the facilities and score even higher at the World Cup. And we expect more tangible projects under the Stadium Project.
2) The SINU dormitory is scheduled to break ground shortly. It includes three four-storey buildings and will accommodate around 900 students after being put into use. During the Pacific Games next year, the SINU Dormitory will be converted to Games Village to accommodate athletes from the whole Pacific region.
3) The National Referral Hospital will be upgraded in due course. Chinese engineers have completed project scoping after discussions with SI government, and submitted survey reports to the Chinese government for consideration. Together with Chinese medical team who arrived weeks ago, public members of SI will get access to more resources to relieve from the pain of cardiopathy, nephropathy and other non-communicable diseases.
4) Supply of Covid-19 assistance. Since the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020, especially after community transmission emerged in SI in 2022, China has donated more than 300,000 Rapid Antigen Testing kits, 300,000 PPEs, 10,000 SinoPharm vaccines, hundreds of oxygen machines, infusion pumps, nucleic acid testing laboratory and an isolation ward to the SI government and people. No one is safe until everyone is safe. We are proud to help with the safety and security of SI people, and will continue to provide necessary assistance on the COVID-19 prevention in the country.
5) Rural development support. As requested by the SI government, China has provided assistance to all constituencies and provinces of SI, and helped with thousands of small livelihood projects such as water, sanitation, health, coconut mills, houses and infrastructure facilities. These projects received warm welcome by rural villagers. On April 8，the Chinese Embassy donated 5 tractors, trailers and plough, through the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) programme coordinated by the MFAET to the MAL. These machinery will be used in two farms named SAPE and Goshen in Guadalcanal and Malaita province. It will increase productivity of cassava, taro and other root-crop production, exactly the kind of help SI farmers need.
6) Education exchange. The first group of SI students arrived safe and sound in China to start their scholarship programs in the ancient and vibrant country. And I sent my congratulations to them. They are representatives of SI, and can also serve as friendship ambassadors between the two countries.
7) Policing cooperation. China has provided anti-riot gears to the RSIPF, and China police liaison team is helping RSIPF officers with professional training. Both countries signed MOU to further cooperation in law enforcement and policing. And the bilateral Security Framework Agreement will help SI in its long term peace and stability.
I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate China’s position on the security agreement with SI. It is based on respect and equality and in the interests of everyone. There is no hidden motive, no geopolitical agenda as some people wrongly claimed. China will never infringe on the sovereignty and internal politics of SI. Instead, I sincerely hope the sovereignty of SI and China could be well respected, and the SI people not be misled by rumors and inflammatory remarks. The destiny of SI lies in the hands of SI people. The tragedy of looting and burning of Chinatown and other properties in Honiara should not repeat itself in the future.
China has a long history of friendship with the Pacific Islands Countries. The Chinese people arrived in Solomon Islands more than one hundred years ago. Our bilateral relations can not be narrowly defined through biased lens of internal politics or geopolitics. As Chinese President Xi Jinping said, no country can address alone the challenges we are facing today. China is firmly committed to the relationship with SI. It is a sovereign decision made by the two governments representing peoples of the two countries, with incredibly huge outcomes in only two years, and should be duly respected.