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China and the Solomon Islands signed a new agreement on police cooperation Monday, the latest deal underscoring the deepening relationship between the two nations amid worries about Beijing’s increasing influence in the Pacific region, Agence France-Presse reported.
The new agreement came as Solomon Island Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare visits China this week to meet with leaders in Beijing and open his country’s embassy in the capital.
The “implementation plan” on policing – effective through 2025 – was one of nine deals signed on Monday following talks between Sogavare and Chinese Premier Li Qiang.
Another agreement also included a deal on a “Sports Technical Assistance Project” for this year’s Pacific Games in the Solomon Islands’ capital Honiara, for which Beijing is building the host stadium.
The recent deals came four years after the Pacific nation officially switched diplomatic ties to China from Taiwan, the self-governing island that Beijing claims as its own territory.
It also follows ongoing tensions in the Pacific as China and the United States vie for influence in the vast region. Observers noted that this competition has been a boon for many Pacific countries, which have received millions of dollars in aid, loans, and construction project windfalls from both rivals.
Even so, Sogavare’s visit has fueled concerns that Honiara is drifting closer to China’s orbit: Late last month, the prime minister called for a “review” of a long-standing defense pact with Australia, although he said he was not seeking to downgrade relations with Canberra.