Tonga’s prime minister Hu’akavameiliku Siaosi Sovaleni says the government will always work with international partner governments on programmes that will help the country provide the services her people need.

Hu’akavameiliku said this has been happening over the last 50 years.

He said the offer from China (People’s Republic of China or PRC) to assist with security details at the upcoming Pacific Islands Leaders Forum is part of the relationship Tonga has with the country.

“It is nothing new,” he said, adding “We have always worked with China and other countries as well.”

PM Sovaleni said the Shandong Public Security Department (PSD) is similar to district police offices in Tonga but they work under the Ministry of Public Security, which is similar to the Tonga Police headquarters.

“Discussions were on how Chinese Police would help Tonga host the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), focusing on what assistance they can provide to assist Tonga Police to deliver services at the meeting and around the meeting.

“The PRC is also willing to donate Police vehicles and motorbikes to Tonga to help ensure the event runs smoothly.”

He added the discussions also included training on motorcade operations.

He said “they are all focused on security operations for the Forum meeting” but nothing beyond that.

PM Sovaleni told a press conference last week there was no need for Australia to be concerned with the PRC’s offer, as there was nothing to be worried about.

The news of China’s PIF assistance had sparked unease in Canberra, with opposition MP Simon Birmingham expressing concern over Beijing’s influence.