According to VOA, investigative reports in Australian media say a Chinese state-owned company is in talks with the Solomon Islands to buy a deep-water port and airport in the archipelago.
In 2019, a delegation from the China Forestry Corporation visited Kolombangara, an Island of the Solomons. Kolombangara is two-thirds forested, a deep-water port, and a World War II-era airstrip.
According to ABC, representatives of the China Forestry Corporation did not show much interest in the forest on the island but only asked about the length and depth of the pier.
China Forestry Corporation has proposed to acquire Kolombangara Forest Products Ltd., owned by shareholders in Taiwan, Australia, and the Solomon Islands government. This is seen as a politically oriented move by a Chinese state corporation.
The board members of Kolombangara Forest Products have written to the Australian Foreign Minister, asking Canberra to provide financial support to the company to prevent China from controlling the port area and airport runways.
The letter said that China could easily build a military base under the guise of commercial development in the Solomons. The letter also said China’s ownership of Kolombangara Forest Products would pose a strategic risk and threat to Australia.
Australia’s investigative reports have also revealed that China used the money to bribe Solomon’s politicians to sway the South Pacific island nation’s decisions in Beijing’s favor.
ABC’s Four Corners program revealed that China had pumped money into the Solomon Islands twice, with MPs loyal to Prime Minister Sogavare receiving a total of about $3 million.
Sogavare called the money a “stimulus package” to revive the economy, while opposition lawmakers received nothing. The incident sparked a vote of no confidence in Sogavare.