China vows Pacific Games projects will be ready in August

Main stadium for Pacific Games 2023.

China’s Ambassador to the Solomon Islands Li Ming has insisted infrastructure projects for this year’s Pacific Games in the capital Honiara will be completed in August.

Approximately SBD$1.85 billion (£184 million/US$226 million/€207 million) in funding is being provided by China for the Games, including the construction of the main stadium.

Li said that work by Jiangsu Provincial Construction (JPC) and the state-run China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) is expected to be handed over to the 2023 Pacific Games National Hosting Authority for inspection and testing, with a view to the Organising Committee taking over from 23 October.

The multi-sport event is scheduled for 19 November to 02 December following a four-month delay blamed on COVID-19.

“The Chinese contractors CCECC constructing the Pacific Games 2023 stadium projects and JPC constructing the Pacific Games 2023 Games Village and Solomon Islands National University Dormitory project reaffirmed their commitment to complete the two projects in August 2023 with high quality,” Li said.

Li claimed that this represented “the perfect gift from the Chinese Government to the Government and people of Solomon Islands as a symbol of our friendship and support”.

He joined Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare and Pacific Games Council President Vidhya Lakhan in visiting construction sites for the projects.

Fijian official Lakhan said that he was “incredibly amazed with the amount of work the contractors have done” since his last visit in November 2022.

The Pacific Games host nation are expected to send 80 athletes to China for three months later this year to help them prepare.

China and the United States are competing against each other to gain influence over the Pacific region.

Australia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Japan have also provided financial aid for the Pacific Games.

The Solomon Islands initially had support from Taiwan until it switched allegiances to China. Sogavare says hosting the multi-sport event means the country cannot hold a general election in 2023 and has had his term extended beyond the constitutional limit of four years, in a move critics say is a power grab and undemocratic.