Chinese President Xi Jinping has hailed the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the Solomon Islands as "conforming to the trends of the times" and urged the Pacific nation to seize the opportunities of Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative.
Meeting Manasseh Sogavare, prime minister of the Solomon Islands, in Beijing on Wednesday, Xi said the ties may be new but "prospects are bright", according to state news agency Xinhua.
"Although the Solomon Islands and China have just established ties … real friendship is not determined by when it starts," Xi was quoted as saying.
The Solomon Islands ended 36 years of diplomatic relations with Taipei last month by announcing that it was switching recognition to Beijing.
Xinhua quoted Sogavare as saying that the Solomon Islands recognised the one-China principle - an understanding that Beijing's sovereignty covers Taiwan - and it had chosen to "stand on the right side of history" in recognising the People's Republic.
Earlier on Wednesday, Sogavare met Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and signed an agreement to take part in the Belt and Road Initiative, Beijing's massive infrastructure programme to link economies in a China-centred trading network. The two countries also signed various deals on economic and education cooperation, including making the Solomon Islands an official destination for mainland Chinese tourists, and pledged closer cooperation on climate change - a major concern for the island nation.
"The (Belt and Road Initiative) proposed by President Xi is going to bring great opportunity to the Solomon Islands," Sogavare said.
In addition, Xi suggested that the Solomon Islands strengthen exchanges with Guangdong, which has experience in working with countries in the Pacific.
Also meeting Sogavare on Wednesday was Chen Yun, president of China Railway Group, according to an online report by a subsidiary of the official People's Daily. The report quoted Chen as saying that the company would "actively participate in transport projects" in the Solomon Islands, as well as a gold mine project in the country.
Chen also said China Railway would help Honiara to build facilities for the next Pacific Games, which will be held in the Solomon Islands in 2023.
Taiwan has criticised Beijing for poaching its former ally by promising to bankroll infrastructure projects in the country.
Beijing has in recent years been expanding its influence in the Pacific, becoming the biggest trading partner and top export destination for the Solomon Islands even before the switch in August.
Five days after Honiara announced its diplomatic change, Kiribati, another Pacific island nation, made a similar move, cutting the number of Taipei's allies to 15.
This sounded an alarm in the United States and its main regional ally, Australia. After the Solomons recognised Beijing, US Vice-President Mike Pence declined a request from Sogavare to meet to discuss cooperation.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said last month that the end of its diplomatic relations with the Solomons was further evidence of Beijing's efforts to meddle in Taiwan's presidential elections in January.
Copyright (c) 2019. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.Artikel Asli