China Foreign Minister likely to visit Solomons

Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

Chinese Foreign Minister and State Councillor Wang Yi is likely to visit the Solomon Islands in coming weeks.

A senior Solomon Islands government source told the ABC that preparations had begun for Wang to visit the capital Honiara.

Australian officials and ministers are monitoring the planned visit very closely.

One federal government source told the ABC they believed it was likely Wang would travel to Honiara as part of a broader visit to a number of Pacific Island countries but added that those plans remain unconfirmed.

Still, the prospect of Wang making a high-level visit to Honiara ahead of the Australian election on 21 May has stirred anxiety in the Coalition, with fears the visit could once again catapult the China-Solomon Islands security pact back into the headlines and allow Labour to attack its national security credentials just before the election.

One government source told the ABC, Wang would lead a large Chinese delegation and the two countries would likely sign a host of new agreements during the trip.

It is also possible the minister will formally sign the deeply contentious security pact that has already been agreed to by both Solomon Islands and China.

The news of his visit comes in the wake of a regional meeting on the China-Solomon Islands agreement, which was held at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat in Fiji’s capital Suva on Tuesday.