In a joint statement released on Monday, the People’s Republic of China and Solomon Islands announced the establishment of a comprehensive strategic partnership characterized by mutual respect and common development. The statement came following an official visit to China by Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare of Solomon Islands from July 9 to 15, 2023. The visit included meetings with top Chinese leaders, including President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Qiang, which resulted in significant consensus and agreements.
China and Solomon Islands expressed their satisfaction with the rapid development of bilateral relations since establishing diplomatic ties four years ago. The leaders hailed the relationship between the two countries as an exemplary model of unity, cooperation, mutual support, and mutual benefit among developing nations, particularly in the Pacific Island region.
The joint statement highlighted several key points of agreement between China and Solomon Islands:
- Appreciation of Achievements: Solomon Islands recognized China’s historic achievements and transformation over the past decade, expressing confidence that under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, the nation would continue to progress towards becoming a great modern socialist country. China, in turn, commended the significant accomplishments made by Solomon Islands in its economic development, improvement of livelihoods, and maintenance of stability under Prime Minister Sogavare’s leadership. China pledged ongoing support for Solomon Islands’ development, vitalization, and long-term stability, while also extending wishes for the success of the upcoming 17th Pacific Games to be held in Solomon Islands.
- Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity: Both countries emphasized the importance of respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations, regardless of size, strength, or wealth. China reaffirmed its staunch support for Solomon Islands’ nation-building process and its right to choose a development path that aligns with its national conditions. Solomon Islands reiterated its unwavering commitment to the one-China principle, recognizing the government of the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal government representing the entirety of China, including Taiwan. It also expressed opposition to any form of “Taiwan Independence” and supported China’s efforts towards national reunification. Furthermore, Solomon Islands supported China’s positions on issues related to Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Tibet, among others, while rejecting any interference in the internal affairs of other countries under the pretext of democracy or human rights.
- Comprehensive Strategic Partnership: China and Solomon Islands agreed to establish a comprehensive strategic partnership for a new era, aiming to strengthen cooperation across various domains:
- Enhanced Exchanges: The two sides pledged to expand high-level exchanges and interactions, including between governments, legislatures, political parties, and subnational entities. The sharing of governance experience would help foster political mutual trust.
- Belt and Road Cooperation: China and Solomon Islands emphasized the promotion of high-quality cooperation within the Belt and Road Initiative. They aimed to create synergy between the initiative and Solomon Islands’ 2035 Development Strategy, enhancing practical cooperation in trade, investment, agriculture, forestry, fishery, rural development, infrastructure, energy, minerals, information and communications, marine resource protection, finance, civil aviation, low emission, green development, and the digital economy. China committed to providing continued assistance to Solomon Islands for independent and sustainable development, including support for rural sustainable development projects.
- Cultural and Educational Exchanges: The two nations sought to expand cooperation in culture, education, health, sports, tourism, youth engagement, think tanks, and media at both national and subnational levels. China expressed its commitment to providing government scholarships, training opportunities, maritime support, and medical teams to Solomon Islands. In 2023, the Peace Ark hospital ship of the Chinese Navy would visit Solomon Islands to provide humanitarian medical services. The two sides also signed an agreement relating to civil air transport, with plans to launch direct flights between the countries.
- Law Enforcement and Security Cooperation: Both parties agreed to strengthen cooperation on law enforcement and security matters. China offered ongoing support and assistance to Solomon Islands in enhancing its police law enforcement capacity. The protection of the safety and lawful rights and interests of each other’s nationals and institutions within their respective countries was also emphasized.
- International and Regional Cooperation: China and Solomon Islands pledged to strengthen communication and cooperation on international and regional affairs. They emphasized the defense of the international system centered around the United Nations, international order based on international law, and basic norms governing international relations. True multilateralism, international fairness, and justice were advocated, while hegemonism, power politics, unilateralism, protectionism, and the imposition of unilateral sanctions were rejected. Both countries aimed to safeguard the common interests of developing countries, build a community with a shared future for mankind, and implement global development, security, and civilization initiatives. Solomon Islands expressed its decision to join the Group of Friends of the Global Development Initiative.
- Multilateral Cooperation: China and Solomon Islands agreed to strengthen cooperation within various multilateral mechanisms and frameworks concerning humanitarian assistance, emergency supplies, climate response, poverty alleviation, development, disaster prevention and mitigation, Juncao technology, agriculture, and more. China reiterated its active support for Pacific Island Countries in implementing the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent. They committed to promoting peace, development, and stability in the Pacific Islands region while upholding international nuclear non-proliferation regimes and treaties.
- Signed Cooperation Documents: During the visit, the two sides signed several cooperation documents in the fields of development cooperation, trade, infrastructure development, civil aviation, education, police affairs, customs, and meteorology. These agreements were viewed as significant steps towards strengthening China-Solomon Islands relations and fostering a closer community with a shared future between China and Pacific Island Countries. Prime Minister Sogavare expressed gratitude for the warm hospitality extended by the Chinese side during his visit and extended an invitation to Chinese leaders to visit Solomon Islands in the near future.
The joint statement concluded with a commitment to implementing the agreed-upon initiatives, which are expected to deepen and cement the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Solomon Islands. It highlighted the shared commitment to promoting peace, stability, and development in the Pacific Islands region, as well as upholding multilateralism and international cooperation based on fairness, mutual respect, and common interests.