By RONALD TOITO’ONA
Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has assured the nation and its people that Solomon Islands is ready to have adiplomatic relationship with the Peoples Republic of China(PRC).
The Democratic Coalition Government for Advancement (DCGA) topmost made the bold assurance in his recent official statement to clarify his government’s decision to recognise the PRC.
He said the move to establish ties with PRC is just like any other diplomatic relation which the country established with its existing diplomatic allies.
“Just like any other diplomatic relations, it is with mutual trust and confidence that a country often decides on a diplomatic relationship.
“Our diplomatic relations with PRC is no exception.
“Following the Caucus and Cabinet decision to recognize the ‘One China principle’, the process to formalize our relationship with PRC has started,” he said.
Mr Sogavare said Cabinet approved the draft Communiqué and the Memorandum of Understanding on establishing diplomatic relations.
“These documents will be executed in Beijing by the Solomon Island Foreign Affairs Minister and his PRC counterpart.
“The execution of these documents begins the process of negotiating a series of sectoral technical corporations which will guide our engagements with the people and Government of PRC,” he stated.
Sunday Star understands that the Foreign Affairs Minister, Jeremiah Manele is currently in Beijing to formalise the diplomatic switch.
The prime minister went on to explain that the Government of the PRC made an undertaking to take over and improve on all the programs under the various Technical Corporation Agreement the country have with the Republic of China, beginning with the immediate transfer of our students in Taiwan to China at the end of the current semester.
“Solomon Islands has been in its comfort zone for quite some time and for a long time, the country has developmental issues that needs to be addressed and we would be simply irresponsible to isolate a global willing player to assist developing and least developing countries in the pursuance of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, including actions on climate change.
“We are struggling as a nation for the last 40 years, including the 36 years of our diplomatic relations with the Republic of China.
“We collapsed as a nation 20 years into our journey as an independent nation. The underlying reasons for the collapse was lack of development opportunities in places outside of Honiara,” he said.
Sogavare said his government believed that being friend to all, enemy to none, gives Solomon Islands room to make more friends.
“……we believe that by establishing diplomatic tie with PRC can assist the country achieve some of its development aspirations.
“Ease of doing business directly with China rather than passing through middlemen will be greatly enhanced.
“The cost of doing business with China who is our single major trading partner will become cheaper and more efficient,” he alluded.
The east Choiseul Constituency MP also made reference to a recent CBSI report and that Solomon Islands will benefit immensely from the China Belt and Road Initiative.
“…we have a total trade value of SBD2 billion which is by far our largest single trading partner, well above all other trading partners combined.
“Our trade with ROC is only SBD142 million which is a minor fraction compared to PRC.
“Additionally, Solomon Islands will greatly benefit from the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and will pump in a lot of infrastructure development that are directly linked to spur our economic development both in the urban centres and in the rural areas,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Sogavare said Solomon Islands is bound to reap huge benefits never seen before in the history of our such a young nation, in this new relationship with PRC.