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.


Most Americans are sleepy new Gallup poll finds...

Associated Press

Most Americans say they don’t get enough sleep, according to new Gallup poll

A new Gallup poll found that most Americans are sleepy — or, at least, they say they are. Multiple factors play into this.

1 day ago

Near-total abortion ban in Arizona dates back to Civil War era...

Associated Press

Near-total abortion ban dates back to 1864, during the Civil War, before Arizona was a state

The near-total abortion ban resurrected last week by the Arizona Supreme Court dates to 1864, when settlers were encroaching on tribal lands.

1 day ago

Tracy Toulou...

Associated Press

How to tackle crime in Indian Country? Empower tribal justice, ex-Justice Department official says

A recently retired director of the Justice Dept. says the federal government hasn't given tribal justice systems equal recognition.

2 days ago

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson...

Associated Press

House Speaker Mike Johnson says he will push for aid to Israel and Ukraine this week

House Speaker Mike Johnson said Sunday he will try to advance wartime aid for Israel this week, along with funding for Ukraine.

2 days ago

President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign rally Saturday, March 9, 2024, at Pullman Yards in Atlanta...

Associated Press

US shoots down ‘nearly all’ Iran-launched attack drones as Biden vows support for Israel’s defense

Joe Biden cut short a weekend stay at his beach house to meet with his national security team as Iran launched an attack against Israel.

4 days ago

Protesters in Phoenix shout as they join thousands marching around the Arizona state Capitol after ...

Associated Press

Abortion ruling supercharges Arizona to be an especially important swing state

A ruling this week instituting a near-total abortion ban supercharged Arizona's role, turning it into the most critical battleground.

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles


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.


Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.


Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

Chinese company eyes Solomon Islands deep-water port