The Chinese Foreign Ministry has taken a swipe at western influences on the Solomon Islands which they claim are aimed at inciting public opposition to China’s relationship with the Pacific nation.
The Global Times, considered globally as a mouthpiece for the Chinese Communist Government, credits the foreign ministry as the source of an article that claimed China’s relationship with the Solomons was not destabilising regional security but promoting it.
The Chinese are present in the Solomon Islands through their police aid campaign where the Chinese police are training Solomon Islands law enforcers on how to deal with riots if they happen in the future. They have been there since March and this will be their last week in the Solomon Islands.
Police Commissioner Third Class Zhang Guangbao, who is leader of the China Police Liaison Team to the Solomon Islands, told the Global Times that the difficulties were not only from the island itself, but also from the outside.
He said attacks and smears from Western countries on the police cooperation were frequent.
During a training exercise replica guns were used and this was speculated on.
“They aimed to incite public opposition,” Zhang said of the claim, which was also refuted by the Solomons police.
“These things do not in any way threaten the security of this country so far, except they are as good as helping RSIPF in building its tactical knowledge and capabilities,” police commissioner Mostyn Mangau said in a statement.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry said some Western countries seized the chance to hype the “China threat theory,” trying to taint normal cooperation and exchanges between China and Pacific Island countries.
Mr Zhang said these smear tactics were all based on geopolitics. “They (Western countries) are judging from their own standpoint, which is not objective or fair,” he said.
According to Zhang, the China Police Liaison Team received recognition and was welcomed by the local government, police, and public.
“They could see and touch our efforts,” Mr Zhang said.
“Moreover, after the riots, it is understandable and natural for China to send personnel to help local police and protect overseas Chinese nationals. Neither the local police force nor the Australian assisting troops were able to protect Chinatown in 2021, and we are not turning a blind eye to vandalism, arson, and looting which might happen again in the future,” he said.
“Why were there riots in the Solomon islands despite decades of aid from other countries?” Zhang asked.
“The police cooperation between China and Solomon Islands is not a threat to regional security and stability, but has effectively promoted regional security and stability. As for some countries ‘perceiving a threat,’ it is because they do not want to see China’s influence in the South Pacific region, and only try to maintain control and influence the South Pacific region to achieve their own goals.”
Mr Zhang has hinted that China is looking to move into the Solomon Islands should overseas Chinese be threatened again, however according to the Solomon Islands Government, there can only be a Chinese intervention if they are asked to come in.
In the meantime, the Solomon Islands police are being taught tactics used by the Chinese to deal with riots.
China has claimed that the November riots were not dealt with effectively, exposing the weaknesses of the police force and a lack of equipment and training in the island nation.
Under such circumstances and upon request by the Solomon Islands’ Government, the Chinese Government quickly dispatched a liaison team to Honiara to support capacity building within the police force in maintaining social safety and stability.
The five-month joint training, which kicked off on March 14, saw not only the police officers resolving to make great efforts to beat challenges and improve their capabilities, but also trust and friendship growing between the two sides.
The main task is to help the local police to strengthen capacities in public management, response to riots, the maintenance of social stability, law, order, and security, and the protection of life and property for all residents in the Solomon Islands, in accordance with the working principles of “professionalism, efficiency, friendliness” and “openness, transparency, and goodwill.”
The training started from barehanded combat skills, and was enhanced with the use of police equipment and tactics, including how to respond to attacks.