Tighter grip in Sino-SI relations as more MOU are signed. PM Sogavare gives break-down
BY MAVIS N PODOKOLO
Solomon Islands has signed nine more agreements with China during prime minister Sogavare’s second trip to China last week.
PM Manasseh Sogavare said the nine memoranda of understanding (MOU) are aimed at establishing a comprehensive strategic partnership framework that is cross-sectoral.
He had signed six agreements when he first went to China in October 2019 after switching Solomon Islands’ diplomatic relations from Taiwan in September of that year.
Addressing media at his second ever press conference, upon arrival from China yesterday, Sogavare cooperation between the two countries covers a wide range of area including agriculture, aviation, climate change, disaster management, education, sports, tourism and trade.
“Within three years of cooperation China has become the largest infrastructure and remains the largest trading partner of Solomon Islands.
“The path on which our relationship is heading has become increasingly broader, this is why we agree to have established a comprehensive strategic partnership framework that is cross sectoral but at the same time more focused.
“It gives me great pleasure to announce that we have signed nine more agreements and Memorandums of Understanding,” he said.
Sogavare said the first agreement is the implementation plan of the Police Cooperation between the Ministry of Public security of the People’s Republic of China and the Ministry of Police National Security and Correctional Services of Solomon Islands 2023 to 2025.
“The implementation plan enhances cooperation on law enforcement and security matters with a commitment by China to provide support as needed for strengthening Solomon Islands Police law enforcement capacity.
“The plan aims to maintain law and order, security and social stability to protecting the security and interests of all citizens of Solomon Islands thereby creating a sound a stable environment for the social and economic development of our country,” he said.
Sogavare stressed a signing between the Ministry of Environment Climate Change Disaster Management and Meteorology of the Solomon Islands and the Ministry of Emergency Management of the People’s Republic of China on the cooperation in the area of disaster risk reduction and emergency Reponses is the second agreement.
“This cooperation will cover emergency supply assistance and contingent plans between Solomon Islands and China also it will enable the sharing of information on disaster and disaster reduction measures between both parties,” he said.
Sogavare adds the third MOU is between the China Metrology and Ministry of Environment Climate Change Disaster Management and Meteorology of the Solomon Islands. The MoU provides for exchanges and collaborative activities in the Meteorological Science and Technology in support of the United Nations Early warning of all initiatives and activities to be undertaken.
The fourth MoU is between the Solomon Islands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade with China Council for promotion the international trade he stated.
Sogavare the protocol on sanitary and phytosanitary requirements for the export for copra oil cake from Solomon Islands to the People’s Republic of China between the general administration of customs of the people’s republic of China and the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock of Solomon Islands is the fifth MoU.
“The sixth MoU is on the 2023 Rural Sustainable Development program between China International Development Cooperation Agency of People’s Republic of China and the Ministry of Rural Development of Solomon Islands. This MoU is to facilitate the global development initiative and the 2030 agenda for the sustainable development implementing projects to promote economic development and improvements for people’s livelihood.”
“The seventh MoU that was signed is the implementation agreement on Sports Technical assistance project to Solomon Islands for the 2023 Pacific Games 28th of March 2023 an exchange of note has been signed between China and Solomon Islands agreeing to undertake sports technical assistance project to Solomon Islands 2023 Pacific Games.”
“The eight MoU that was signed is agreement between the government and People’s Republic of China and the government of Solomon Islands relating to civil air transport. The agreements provide for the operation and regulations of international air services on routes specified for the air transport of passengers and cargo,” he said.
Sogavare said the ninth MoU on joint Chinese Language education program in Solomon Islands between the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China and the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development of Solomon Islands.
He further stressed that the trip is fruitful and successful
“I delighted to announce that this was a very fruitful and very successful trip,” Sogavare said.
In early October, 2019, a month after he led Solomon Islands away from diplomatic relations with Taiwan in exchange for China, Sogavare led a delegation of 30 to Beijing on his first official visit to China.
He signed six agreements with China: 1) MOU between ministries of Foreign Affairs of the two countries; 2) Economic and Technical Cooperation; 3) Education; 4) Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Maritime Silk Road Initiatives; 5) MOU between Guangdong Province of PRC and the Ministry of Provincial Government; 6) MOU on the establishment of Diplomatic Relations.
Solomon Islands foreign affairs minister, Jeremiah Manele revealed and explained the six agreements in parliament six months later, in March 2020.
“The MOU between Ministries of Foreign Affairs of SI and PRC recognises that the foreign ministries of both countries will manage all forms of cooperation between the two states including all bilateral, multilateral, consular, people to people and formal and informal relations,” Mr Manele said, responding to a question by the shadow foreign minister, Mr Peter Kenilorea Jr.
This MOU also spells out the commitment of both ministries to establish diplomatic embassies in each other’s capitals, and was for a five-year period, open for review anytime.
“The Memorandum on Economic and Technical Cooperation commits China to develop Solomon Islands’ economy and improve our people’s livelihoods.
“The MOU also specifically identifies China’s grant aid of two years to support RCDF from 2020-2022 and four national projects namely; Pacific Games Stadium, Water Purification facility, National Referral Hospital and SINU,” he added.
The MOU on Education was an agreement between the two countries’ education authorities to cooperate, covering student mobility, teach exchange and language teaching.
Manele said China would send teachers to Solomon Islands and have Solomon Islands teachers do language training in China.
The MOU also covered potential new students studying in China both on private arrangements and those on scholarship.
Manele said the implementation of the MOU will be carried out by education authorities of both countries and all financial cost implications of the MOU will be discussed through diplomatic channels.
This MOU had a life span of five years, and was open for review “anytime” “given a six-month notice”.
The MOU between Guandong province and Solomon Islands’ provinces allowed for cooperation and investments in agriculture, fisheries, aquaculture, tourism investment and training, Manele said.
MOU between PRC and SI on the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Maritime Silk Road Initiatives strengthened cooperation through regional connectivity and economic cooperation.
This MOU had a five-year life span and can automatically be extended or amended by written consent of the parties, Manele added.
The MOU on the establishment of Diplomatic Relations addressed a confidential MOU that called on Solomon Islands to abrogate all its agreements with Taiwan, Manele said.
This MOU committed China to support Solomon Islands economic progress, cooperation in trade, infrastructure, sports, education, tourism as well as other sectors.