Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has announced that China is sending additional police to the country to help provide security for the Pacific Games.
The Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) on Monday received another donation of police equipment from China’s Ministry of Public Security — including metal detectors, two drones and police uniforms – during a ceremony at its main headquarters in Honiara.
The ABC reports that Sogavare also announced that China’s small police liaison team in Solomon Islands would grow to help provide security for the Pacific Games starting this month.
“Prime Minister Sogavare stated, as part of preparation for the Pacific Games 2023, People’s Republic of China’s Ministry of Public Security increased the personnel input of the China Police Liaison Team as well as conducted comprehensive security training for the RSIPF police officers,” Sogavare’s office said.
The statement does not say how many additional officers had, or would, come into the country, or exactly what role they would play during the Pacific Games, which will run from 19 November to 02 December.
The ABC has asked the police minister’s office, the RSIPF and the Chinese embassy in Honiara for more information about the extra Chinese personnel.
Shadow Foreign Minister Simon Birmingham said if there was a shortfall in security for the Pacific Games then Solomon Islands should turn to Australia and Pacific Island nations for help, rather than China.
“Solomon Islands has stated, and the Albanese government has repeated, assurances that Australia is the security partner of choice for Solomon Islands,” he said.
2If that’s the case, then we should be there providing that security for those games.”
Senator Birmingham said he was confident that the federal government would have made it clear that Australia would be willing to plug any security gaps for the Games, and suggested Mr Sogavare’s actions might unnerve other Pacific Island leaders.
“I would think that all Pacific Island nations would prefer to see adherence to the principle of Pacific-led solutions to Pacific problems,” he said.
Around 5,000 athletes from across the region are expected to flock to Solomon Islands for the event, along with thousands of supporters, visitors and spectators.