HONIARA (CU)_Over the recent weeks, China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific has come under the spotlight following a controversial security agreement that was signed between the Communist superpower and the Solomon Islands last month. Against this backdrop, the leaders of the US, India, Australia and Japan met in Tokyo this week for a second in-person summit of the Quad, during which they expressed their opposition to “coercive, provocative or unilateral actions” in the region, although they did not mention China by name.
Nevertheless, Beijing appears to be keen on strengthening its influence in the Pacific, with Foreign Minister Wang Yi looks scheduled to visit five Pacific Islands nations over the coming two weeks. His visit is seen as a marathon trip designed to signal the Communist regime’s broader ambitions in the Indo-Pacific and strengthening its commercial and security ties with the region.
The Prime Minister of Solomon Islands, Manasseh Sogavare, publicly confirmed a visit from a Chinese official, although he did not confirm that it would be the Foreign Minister. The Pacific archipelago would receive “a high-level visit from the government of the People’s Republic of China later this week”, he said during a national address yesterday. According to ABC, Minister Wang is expected to arrive in Solomon Islands on Wednesday evening and will meeting with PM Sogavare and several other government officials on Thursday.
According to the government of Solomon Islands, the almost 20-member delegation from China will spend a day in the country’ capital Honiara, attending several high-level meetings, including those with the Prime Minister and acting Governor-General, while a press conference alongside Solomons Foreign Minister Jeremiah Manele is also on the schedule. It further noted that “the signing of a number of key bilateral agreements with the national government” were also expected, describing it as a “highlight” of the visit.
Meanwhile, diplomatic sources expect the Chinese Foreign Minister to travel to several other Pacific Island nations during his tour, with Commonwealth nations Samoa, Kiribati, Tonga and Vanuatu listed as possible destinations. Regardless, the Chinese delegation’s trip in the Pacific is expected to be monitored closely by countries across the region, the US and Australia in particular.