SYDNEY (Reuters) – A group of 32 police officers from the South Pacific nation of Solomon Islands has flown to China to train in policing techniques and improve their understanding of Chinese culture, the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force said in a statement.
China has provided public order management training to police in the Solomon Islands since the two countries signed a security pact in April, an agreement that alarmed the United States and its allies including Australia, which traditionally provided policing support.
The 32 officers would visit different police stations in China during their month-long visit, the force said in the statement.
At a White House summit with Pacific island leaders last month, the United States, seeking to counter China’s rising influence in the strategically important region, said it would send FBI law enforcement trainers to the Solomon Islands this year.
Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has previously told Australia it remained the nation’s security partner of choice and denied the pact with China would allow it to set up a military base.
Australian police quelled anti-government riots in Honiara, the Solomon Islands capital, in November. China says its security pact will allow Chinese police to protect Chinese projects and personnel.
Chinese construction and telecommunications companies have struck multi-million dollars deals for Solomon Islands infrastructure projects.
(Reporting by Kirsty Needham; Editing by Robert Birsel)