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A group of Chinese police officers began official duties in the Solomon Islands, more than two months after major anti-government protests gripped the Pacific nation, the South China Morning Post reported this week.

The police officials said that their role in the country will be to train local police, help investigate China-related cases and provide safety training for Chinese citizens living in the Solomon Islands.

The move is part of China’s plan to send advisers and equipment for riot police following mass demonstrations in December: The protests began a month earlier when Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare was accused of using Chinese money from a national development fund to manipulate lawmakers’ votes.

The unrest saw a number of Chinese businesses targeted and left hundreds of people homeless.

In response, Australia and New Zealand sent their own security forces to quell the turmoil.

The Chinese embassy in the Solomon Islands said the advisers will help deepen the relationship between the two forces. The postings are raising concerns, however, that the deployment is an attempt by China to extend its influence in the region.

In recent years, Beijing has been increasing cooperation between police forces on a number of Pacific island nations in an effort to solve transnational crimes and protect the interests of Chinese citizens there.

Still, some analysts noted that the recent deployment does not “carry a geopolitical meaning and should not be interpreted as political interference and engagement.”

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