A senior Royal Solomon Islands policeman has not ruled out the possibility of having Chinese police embedded in the island nation’s force under a new security agreement between the two countries.
Michael Aluvolomo, the transnational crime unit inspector for the Royal Solomon Islands police force, said it was for the “government of the day” to allow Chinese police in the country but “for the time” they are not working with the island’s police force.
The Chinese police force is set to arrive in the Solomon Islands at its behest to provide special training in management and leadership, said the senior officer.
“China is new to us,” Mr Aluvolomo told The Guardian in an interview. “There are plans with our commissioner on how we can strengthen our police activity. Now, they are very much focused on our capacity building in terms of our management and leadership.”
“It is for the government of the day to accept Chinese police working within our local police. For the time, there [are] no Chinese police working with us but they are coming with a programme on capacity development,” he added.
The two countries signed a landmark security alliance deal on 19 April, raising fears across the south Pacific, including Australia, over a potential large-scale Chinese military buildup on the island.
The pact will pave the way for China to deploy People’s Liberation Army units and the Chinese navy in the Pacific island nation, which is on the doorstep of Australia and New Zealand and is in close proximity to Guam, which has a massive US military base.
Solomon Islands prime minister Manasseh Sogavare defended the security agreement as being directed entirely to “our internal security situation” but said it would not “undermine the peace and harmony of our region” as feared by nations.
“I ask all our neighbours, friends and partners to respect the sovereign interest of Solomon Islands on the assurance that the decision will not adversely impact or undermine the peace and harmony of our region,” he told parliament.
Hoping to reset relationships with Pacific countries, Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese visited the Solomon Islands in July after the previous Scott Morrison administration’s foreign minister Marise Payne slammed the country for a “lack of transparency” of the agreement.
Mr Sogavare hit back at Canberra and said his country did not “become theatrical or hysterical” after Australia signed the Aukus pact with the US and UK.
Earlier, New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern questioned the motive of the security pact between the two countries as she raised concerns regarding Beijing’s growing “assertiveness” and “interest” in the region.
The US and Australian diplomatic delegation is also expected to visit the Solomon Islands this week to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Guadalcanal.
The US delegation led by deputy secretary of state Wendy Sherman along with its ambassador to Australia Caroline Kennedy, is expected to discuss the reopening of the US embassy in capital Honiara, part of an express Washington strategy to counter China’s growing influence.