Prime Minister Sogavare returns from China

The Prime Minister of Solomon Islands, Manasseh Sogavare, has returned from a trip to China. The trip attracted a lot of media attention because of a policing agreement that was signed between the two countries whilst he was there.

Solomon Islands and China have upgraded their relationship by way of a ‘Comprehensive Strategic Partnership’. Prime Minister Sogavare has stressed that his focus is on development and that an expanded relationship with China is key to Solomon Islands making progress in achieving the 2030 Sustainable Goals for Development.

In among the nine Memorandums of Understanding that were signed was an agreement that China would provide finance to the Ministry of Rural Development so that they could support projects across the country. This looks to be a continuation of the controversial constituency funding mechanisms that have become entrenched in Solomon Islands’ politics.

Fukushima water discharge remains contentious

Japan’s proposal to discharge treated wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear disaster into the Pacific ocean continues to spark concern and division across the region.

The head of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Association has met with the Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), Prime Minister Mark Brown of Cook Islands. He has confirmed that the proposed discharge plan complies with the agency’s standards and will be monitored by them for decades to come.

Prime Minister Brown said that it would be up to each member of the PIF to determine whether they accepted that the Japanese proposal was acceptable.

Meanwhile, a Vanuatu MP has stated his strong opposition to the proposed discharge plan. Other voices in civil society and communities have also voiced their concerns about the safety of the proposal and what it will mean for fisheries and ocean health.

Other Pacific News:

In Fiji the trial of former Prime Minister Bainimarama and suspended police chief Qiliho has begun. Bainimarama has been charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice and Qiliho has been charged with abuse of office.

The Chinese naval hospital ship Peace Ark has commenced a Pacific tour with a call to Kiribati. It is the first time that the vessel has visited that country. She will also visit Tonga, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Timor Leste.

The renegotiation of the Compact funding between the USA and Marshall Islands has yet to be finalised. Marshall Islands’ negotiators are pushing for more compensation for ongoing damage from nuclear testing, but the US maintains there is no more money available.

The Melanesian Spearhead Group has deferred the meeting of its leadership that was scheduled to take place this month. Prime Minister Sogavare of Solomon Islands is not available to attend because of a Parliamentary sitting.

China’s special envoy to the Pacific islands region is scheduled to visit Cook Islands, where he will meet with Prime Minister Mark Brown, who is chair of the Pacific Islands Forum. It is the first run out for Qian Bo in this new role.


Tess Newton Cain is a Senior Research Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute and project lead for the Griffith Pacific Hub.