Japan sends senior official to Solomon Islands over China security pact

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Japan dispatched a senior official to the Solomon Islands on Monday amid concern that a recently concluded security pact between the southwest Pacific nation and China will increase Beijing’s military influence in the region.

During his trip through Wednesday, Parliamentary Vice Foreign Minister Kentaro Uesugi is scheduled to discuss the enhancement of bilateral ties and collaboration in the international arena with senior officials of the Solomon Islands, the Foreign Ministry said.

The visit comes after China said last week it had signed a deal with the Pacific island nation, reportedly allowing Beijing to deploy forces and dock vessels in the islands. The details of the new treaty remain unclear.

In the talks with Solomon Islands officials, Uesugi is expected to convey Japan’s apprehension over China’s recent attempts to expand its military activities in the region, according to government sources.

The Solomon Islands switched diplomatic ties from Taipei to Beijing in 2019.

The United States said Friday it had warned the Solomon Islands against any possible moves toward inviting a Chinese military presence following the signing of the security pact. Washington has sent senior U.S. officials to the islands.

Japan had been arranging a visit to the Solomon Islands by Shingo Miyake, another parliamentary vice foreign minister, but he was replaced by Uesugi due to a scheduling conflict.

SOURCE: THE JAPAN TIMES/PACNEWS