Peoples Republic of China (PRC) respects the wish of other developing countries and never imposed ideas PRC’s Ambassador Li Ming says.
He made this clarification over claim by academics saying the US$25 million assistance to Malaita is part of USA’s geostrategic struggle with China in the Pacific.
Dr Terence Wood from the Australian National University’s Development Policy Centre said the US funding is 50 times what Malaita received in total from aid donors last year.
“I’d almost certainly think that the United States is focusing on Malaita right now because it sees Malaita as a potential source of support, in its own geostrategic struggle with China in the region,” he said.
The five-year funding for Malaita targets agriculture and the environment and aimed to boost the economy of the province.
PRC Ambassador Li Ming told Island Sun that China is pleased to see other countries in and out of region provide assistance to Pacific Island Countries including Solomon Islands to benefit their people.
Ming said China’s assistance to Solomon Islands and other Pacific countries is different to Western countries because it is based on equality, mutual respect and mutual benefit.
He said there is no geo politic involved in any project that benefit Solomon Islands and Pacific Island Countries.
“We do things through in-depth consultation and discussion.
“We fully respect the ideas and wishes of other developing countries and never imposed ideas,” he said.
According to Pacific Beat in Radio Australia, the funding comes as Malaita’s relations with the national government is at its lowest, because of its opposition to the government’s decision last year to switch diplomatic ties from Taiwan to China.
Malaita continues to back Taiwan – which China sees as a breakaway province – and in recent months has called for an independence referendum.
But Chad Morris the Public Affairs Officer for the United States Embassy in Papua New Guinea, has rejected this.
He said support for Malaita was upon request by the government and has been in the works for the past two years.
“Like with the many programs with the US government there is a fairly lengthy process to go through…there is no intention to make this a political move,” he said.
On the ground, Malaita Premier Suidani has welcomed the funding, describing it as a gift from a true friend.
“Nothing in such magnitude have ever been seen and felt by my people of Malaita Province since Solomon Islands gained independent in 1978.
But in Honiara, the US announcement caught many by surprise including government officials.
A government statement said the funding would be subject to government processes with Cabinet to have the final approval and cautioned against misinformation.