AP

Chinese company eyes Solomon Islands deep-water port

Aug 1, 2022, 1:39 AM | Updated: 1:48 am

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — A Chinese state-owned company is negotiating to buy a forestry planation with a deep-water port and World War II airstrip in Solomon Islands amid persistent concerns that China wants to establish a naval foothold in the South Pacific country.

A delegation from China Forestry Group Corp. visited the plantation that covers most of Kolombangar Island in 2019, asking questions about the length of the wharf and depth of the water while showing little interest in the trees, Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported on Monday.

The board of Kolombangara Forest Products Ltd., the takeover target known as KFPL which is owned by Taiwanese and Australian shareholders, wrote to the newly elected Australian government in May warning of the “risks/strategic threats” posed to Australia by such a sale, the ABC reported.

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade wrote back to the board last week saying it was “not intervening,” the ABC said.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong’s office told The Associated Press that Australia was continuing to engage with KFPL on the potential sale.

Australia’s High Commissioner in Honiara Lachlan Strahan “has been engaging regularly with the management of KFPL and will continue to do so,” Wong’s office said in a statement.

“We value our position as Solomon Islands’ first security and development partner of choice, and we are committed to working together to face our shared challenges,” the statement added.

KFPL Chairman Matthew English said in a statement he “cannot comment on any commercial matters in relation to KFPL.”

A KFPL official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to make public comment, said the board wanted the Australian government to make an offer or facilitate an offer from an Australian company.

U.S. and its allies’ concerns over China’s growing influence in the South Pacific intensified this year when China and the Solomons signed a bilateral security pact that has stoked fears of a Chinese military presence less than 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) off Australia’s northeast coast.

Australia already has a security treaty with the Solomons and Australian police have been maintaining peace in the capital Honiara since rioting late last year.

Solomons Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare insists that China will never be allowed to establish a military base in his country.

His office did not respond to a request for comment on Monday.

Solomons lawmaker Silas Tausinga, whose electorate is near Kolombangar, said China had a strong ambition to house military assets in the Solomons.

“Absolutely, Australia should be worried about it,” Tausinga told ABC.

China’s influence has been rapidly growing in the Solomons since 2019, when Honiara switched it allegiance from Taiwan to Beijing.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

deadly heat wave last summer...

Associated Press

After a deadly heat wave last summer, metro Phoenix is changing tactics

Fresh memories of the deadly heat wave last summer have led Arizona authorities to launch new tactics ahead of summer 2024.

2 days ago

A Yuma man has been arrested for allegedly starting a wildfire in a national wildlife preserve near...

Associated Press

Man accused of starting wildfire in national wildlife preserve in Yuma

A Yuma man has been arrested for allegedly starting a wildfire in a national wildlife preserve near the California border.

2 days ago

Colorado River settlement center of new Navajo Nation push...

Associated Press

Tribes say their future is at stake as they push for Congress to consider Colorado River settlement

Navajo officials are celebrating the signing of legislation outlining a proposed Colorado River settlement that would ensure water rights.

5 days ago

Arizona doctors California abortions...

Associated Press

Arizona doctors can come to California to perform abortions under new law signed by Gov. Newsom

Arizona doctors can temporarily come to California to perform abortions for their patients under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

6 days ago

Father convicted of first-degree murder in northern Arizona...

Associated Press

Arizona man convicted of first-degree murder in starvation death of 6-year-old son

A northern Arizona father was convicted of first-degree murder Thursday in the 2020 starvation death of his 6-year-old son.

6 days ago

Former President Donald Trump sits in a courtroom next to his lawyer Todd Blanche before the start ...

Associated Press

Trump hush money trial enters new phase after defense rests without testimony from former president

Donald Trump's hush money trial is now closer to the moment when the jury will begin deciding the former president's fate.

8 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

Chinese company eyes Solomon Islands deep-water port