Papua New Guinea police role in Solomon Islands formalized by new agreement

The Solomon Islands government requested help from other countries after anti-China riots in 2021.
By Harlyne Joku for BenarNews
2023.02.09
Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea police role in Solomon Islands formalized by new agreement Papua New Guinea Foreign Minister Justin Tkatchenko (left) and Solomon Islands Foreign Minister Jeremiah Manele sign a police deployment agreement in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on Feb. 8, 2023.
Handout/Papua New Guinea Foreign Ministry

Papua New Guinea’s police presence in the neighboring Solomon Islands that followed anti-China rioting in late 2021 has been formalized by an agreement between the two countries.

The pact signed by the countries foreign ministers on Wednesday covers deployment of Papua New Guinea’s police to the Solomon Islands in joint operations to maintain law and order as well as humanitarian assistance and disaster response, according to a joint statement.

“This agreement secures the police-to-police relationships, ensuring that our police

can travel freely knowing that we have an agreement between both countries,” said Papua New Guinea’s Foreign Minister Justin Tkatchenko.

PNG Solomons2.JPG
A building burned and graffitied in the November 2021 rioting in the Solomon Islands capital Honiara is pictured on Nov. 18, 2022. Stephen Wright/BenarNews

The Chinatown in the Solomon Islands capital Honiara was torched in rioting in November 2021 that was fueled by anti-Chinese and anti-government sentiment. 

The protestors, mainly from the country’s most populous province, Malaita, were reportedly opposed to the national government’s tilt to closer relations with Beijing and angered by unequal economic development in the Pacific island country.

The Solomon Islands government requested help from Australia and other countries to prevent continuing chaos. 

“We have provided on different occasions, police [to] the Solomon Islands to help

them in their security issues over many years,” Tkatchenko said. “Even now we have Papua New Guinean police officers in Honiara, Solomon Islands working with their counterparts engaged in security and protecting their country.”

The Solomon Islands, a country of some 700,000 people, has become a hot spot in the U.S.-China competition for influence with economically lagging Pacific island nations. 

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare’s government switched its diplomatic recognition to China from Taiwan in 2019. 

Last year it signed a security pact with Beijing that has been followed by a Chinese police presence in the Solomon Islands capital Honiara, training for local police and the donation of vehicles and water cannons. Neither country has released the text of the agreement. 

Australia also has recently donated equipment to the Solomon Islands police including vehicles and rifles.

Solomon Islands Foreign Minister Jeremiah Manele said Melanesian countries should forge a “Melanesian Security setup to respond to disasters as well as soft and hard threats impacting the sub-region.”

BenarNews is an RFA-affiliated news service.

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