It was understood that the Sogavare led government’s decision to push a long time friend; Republic of China-Taiwan (ROC) out the door in favour of China has caused internal disputes, some of which are still raging.
The internal dispute over the switch is still very much simmering, whilst Sogavare continues to strengthen the country’s relationship with PRC.
For 36 years, Solomon Islands and ROC Taiwan had a very good relationship until September last year when Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, with the blessing of his Cabinet decided to switch to Beijing, China.
Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade Jeremiah Manele flew all the way to China and sealed the diplomatic relations at a meeting in Beijing.
Manele and China's foreign minister Wang Yi signed the communiqué in Beijing on the 20th September 2019.
In October the same year, Sogavare and his government delegation flew over to Beijing to reaffirm his government’s commitment to the switch.
In China, Sogavare met with PRC President Xi Jinping as part of his six days official visit.
Sogavare told Jinping that Solomon Islands side recognizes the One China principle, establishes diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China, and chooses to stand on the right side of history and on the side of most countries in the world.
“This is a solemn and firm political commitment made by the Solomon Islands side,” Sogavare said.
He further added that the Solomon Islands hope to learn from China's successful experience so as to achieve its own progress and prosperity.
“The Belt and Road Initiative proposed by President Xi Jinping is a great initiative and brings great opportunities to the Solomon Islands.
“Solomon Island stands ready to actively carry out cooperation in various areas including trade, investment, agriculture and fishery, and tourism with the Chinese side to jointly create a new future for Solomon Islands-China relations.
“The Solomon Islands side appreciates the Chinese side's concern and support for the development of the Pacific Island countries,” Sogavare told Jinping in October last year.
It was also during the six days visit that Sogavare met Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing and signed several agreements since the two countries established diplomatic relations last year.
The five MOUs are as follow;
- MOU between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of both countries to coordinate all bilateral relation agendas;
- MOU on economic and technical cooperation – commitment of PRC to support Solomon Islands economic development and well being of Solomon Islanders. The MOU also support national projects of the country in different sectors;
- MOU between the ministries of education of the two states on a range of education is from scholarships to supporting Solomon Islands National University;
- MOU on the Belt and Road Initiative – is a new form of cooperation covering 5 pillars of connectivity: Infrastructure, trade, finance, policy and people to people relations; and
- MOU with Guangdong which opens up cooperation between Guangdong and our various provinces covering agriculture, fisheries, health and people to people relations.
PRC will officially open its Embassy Office in Honiara on Monday 21st September 2020.
By ANDREW FANASIA