Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has used Chinese money to shore up his government. Whether alignment with Chinese interests is to follow will likely depend on Canberra’s ability to meet competing funding promises.

Attracting client states can prove a costly business. In July, Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare returned from Beijing with a new police assistance package, including promises of a forensic autopsy laboratory and of drones for riot control. The latest package implements an earlier security deal with China, leaked in draft form in March 2022, which allows Chinese naval vessels to dock in the Solomon Islands and Chinese armed police to be deployed to deal with urban unrest. After touching down in his country’s capital, Honiara, Sogavare accused Australia and New Zealand of reneging on their promises of budget support and, implausibly, claimed that China had stepped in to fill the gap. Canberra and Wellington have denied this, but neither is likely to withhold assistance in protest at the Solomon Islands’ expanding relationships with Beijing. Empowered by growing geopolitical tensions, Sogavare has been able to play one side off against the other in his efforts to secure concessions.

Please click here to read the full “Chinese policing deals in the Solomon Islands” article published at Australian Outlook, written by Griffith Asia Institute Adjunct Professor Jon Fraenkel.