China–Solomon Islands relations

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China–Solomon Islands relations
Map indicating locations of China and Solomon Islands


Solomon Islands
Ambassador Li MingAmbassador John Moffat Fugui

Solomon Islands and China (PRC) established official diplomatic relations in 2019. Prior to this, Solomon Islands had diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

The current ambassador of China to Solomon Islands is Li Ming.[1] The ambassador of Solomon Islands to China until 2022 was John Moffat Fugui (9 September 1961 – 22 December 2022, Beijing).[2][3]


Solomon Islands, formerly the British Solomon Islands Protectorate, gained its independence in 1978 and became known as Solomon Islands. Five years later, in 1983, Solomon Islands established diplomatic relations with the Republic of China (ROC) which it maintained until 2019 when Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare severed the 36-year relationship with the Taiwanese government and began official recognition and diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China (PRC).[4] The Guardian and national newspaper the Solomon Star reported that Solomon Islands MPs had claimed both China (PRC) and Taiwan (ROC) had offered hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to them, to influence the politics in their favour.[5][6] A series of demonstrations and violent riots followed the government's decision leading to a 36-hour lockdown in the capital, a number of buildings were burnt down, and the deployment of police.[7][8][9] Deakin University Professor Matthew Clarke deemed the switch an important step for China's One Belt One Road goals.[4]

Contemporary relations[edit]

Lease of Tulagi[edit]

In September 2019, Chinese state-owned conglomerate China Sam Enterprise Group secretly signed a lease agreement with the Tulagi provincial government for exclusive rights to the entire island. A shock to residents of the province, leaked details of the agreement revealed provisions for a fishery base, operations centre, an airport, and an oil and gas terminal.[10][11] A month later, the Solomon Islands attorney general overturned the agreement, citing: trespass on national government powers, the failure of China Sam to register as a foreign investor, and the lack of vital details including a timeline.[11]

Security pact[edit]

In March 2022, China and Solomon Islands signed a draft security pact that, according to leaked photos, allows Honiara to ask Beijing to send in law enforcement and military personnel to the Solomon Islands to assist in "maintaining social order" or "protecting people's lives and property".[12][13] The deal also permits Chinese ships to conduct replenish and stopover in Solomon Islands and to use the "relevant forces of China" to "protect the safety of Chinese personnel and other major projects in Solomon Islands."[13][14]

The government of Solomon Islands announced the agreement was part of an effort to "respond to Solomon Islands' soft and hard domestic threats" as part of the nation's national security strategy, referring to the violent 2021 Solomon Islands unrest over the Prime Minister's decision to switch recognition from the ROC to the PRC.[9] The Australian government, being both a neighbour of Solomon Islands and a strategic rival to China, voiced great concern over this development.[15] Particularly, Australia and some of its allies including New Zealand were concerned that this might be the start of permanent Chinese military bases being placed near Australia.[16][17] Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the pact was "a reminder of the constant pressure and threats that present in our region to our own national security."[18] Similar, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern expressed concern that the security pact would lead to the militarisation of the South Pacific.[17]

Visit by Wang Yi[edit]

In May 2022, China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Solomon Islands as his first stop of a ten-nation tour in the Pacific. With only select media allowed to cover the event, the Media Association of Solomon Islands boycotted in protest.[19] Yi's visit, part of an effort to sign a sweeping security and economic agreement with each of the small Pacific nations, was described by Solomon Islands Secretary of Foreign Affairs Jermiah Manele as a "milestone in the relations" between Solomon Islands and PRC.[20][21]

Deal with Huawei[edit]

In August 2022, the government of Solomon Islands accepted a $66 million (USD) loan from the People's Republic of China to have Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei construct 161 mobile phone towers in Solomon Islands, celebrated as "a historic financial partnership."[22][23] Previously, in 2018, Solomon Islands awarded Huawei a contract to build a telecommunications cable network prompting the Australian government to intervene.[23] The government of Solomon Islands claimed it hoped to repay the loan within 11 years, however this loan and the Chinese issued Tina Hydro Project loan raised the Solomon Islands national debt from 15% of GDP to 30%. A 2019 Central Bank of Solomon Islands report prior to the loan warned that the country didn't have the capacity to take further loans from the PRC.[23] In October, Opposition leader Matthew Wale urged the government to scrap the loans and claimed that they were paying for technology that will be obsolete far before the government pays off the loan. Wales also asked the government to publish a report by consulting firm KPMG which highlights Huawei's entitlement to 50% of revenue over ten years.[24]

Other Activity[edit]

In August 2022, Solomon Islands turned away a U.S. Coast Guard ship and British Royal Navy ship claiming to have placed a moratorium on all foreign military ships pending further review, raising fears that Solomon Islands was turning away from western nations in favour of China.[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Ambassador's Biography". Embassy of the PRC to the Solomon Islands. Retrieved 6 April 2022.
  2. ^ "Solomon Islands Assigns First Ambassador to China". Solomon Times. 14 May 2021. Retrieved 6 April 2022.
  3. ^ "MFAET announces passing on of Ambassador Fugui in Beijing". Solomon Islands Government. 25 December 2022. Retrieved 26 December 2022.
  4. ^ a b Cavanough, Edward (7 December 2019). "When China came calling: inside the Solomon Islands switch". The Guardian.
  5. ^ Saeni, Wilson (12 July 2021). "Pro-China MPs' $1m attempt to bribe Malaita Premier fails". Solomon Star. Auki.
  6. ^ Cavanough, Edward (7 December 2019). "China and Taiwan offered us huge bribes, say Solomon Islands MPs". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 April 2022.
  7. ^ "Solomon Islands police find three bodies after violent protests". Shropshire Star. Archived from the original on 27 November 2021. Retrieved 29 November 2021.
  8. ^ "Three bodies found after days of unrest in Solomon Islands". Archived from the original on 2 December 2021. Retrieved 27 November 2021.
  9. ^ a b "Police use tear gas in Solomon Islands – Taipei Times". Taipei Times. 25 November 2021. Archived from the original on 24 November 2021. Retrieved 25 November 2021.
  10. ^ Cave, Damien (16 October 2019). "China Is Leasing an Entire Pacific Island. Its Residents Are Shocked". The New York Times.
  11. ^ a b Cave, Damien (24 October 2022). "Chinese Lease of Entire Island Is Deemed Illegal in Solomons". The New York Times. Retrieved 6 April 2022.
  12. ^ "Solomon Islands signs China pact, defying Australia". Taipei Times. 20 April 2022. Retrieved 20 April 2022.
  13. ^ a b Kim, Patricia M. (6 May 2022). "Does the China-Solomon Islands security pact portend a more interventionist Beijing?". Brookings Institution.
  14. ^ Dr. Anna Powles [@annapowles] (24 March 2022). "The draft security cooperation agreement between China and Solomon Islands has been linked on social media and raises a lot of questions (and concerns). (photos of agreement in this and below tweet)" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  15. ^ McKeith, Sam. "'Great concern' over China-Solomon Islands deal: Australia PM". MSN. Reuters. Retrieved 6 April 2022.
  16. ^ McCarthy, Simone; Yee, Lizzy (25 March 2022). "Solomon Islands reassures Australia as it works on China security deal". MSN. CNN. Retrieved 6 April 2022.
  17. ^ a b "Pacific tensions: NZ raising concerns with China, Australia 'freaking out' over Solomon Islands". The New Zealand Herald. 28 March 2022. Archived from the original on 28 March 2022. Retrieved 23 May 2022.
  18. ^ "China, Solomons ink draft of controversial security pact". Associated Press. 31 March 2022.
  19. ^ Perry, Nick (26 May 2022). "China's foreign minister starts Pacific tour in the Solomons". Associated Press.
  20. ^ "China's Foreign Minister Starts Pacific Tour in Solomons". Voice of America. Associated Press. 26 May 2022.
  21. ^ "China says it has 'no intention' of building military base in Solomon Islands, Penny Wong visits Fiji as part of Pacific reset". ABC News (Australia). 26 May 2022.
  22. ^ "Solomon Islands Secures $66 Mn Chinese Loan For Huawei Deal". Barron's. Agence France-Presse. 19 August 2022.
  23. ^ a b c Kekea, Georgina (18 August 2022). "Solomon Islands secures $100m China loan to build Huawei mobile towers in historic step". The Guardian.
  24. ^ "Wale calls on gov't to publish KPMG report on Huawei towers project". Solomon Star. 5 October 2022.
  25. ^ Wong, Edward (30 August 2022). "Solomon Islands Suspends Visits by Foreign Military Ships, Raising Concerns in the U.S." The New York Times.