Solomon Islands picks new prime minister, likely to keep close ties with China

Lawmakers in Solomon Islands have selected foreign affairs and trade minister Jeremiah Manele as the South Pacific nation's new prime minister. The move indicates Solomon Islands will likely maintain close ties with China.

The lawmakers voted on Thursday to choose the successor to Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, whose government has deepened relations with China.

In 2019, Solomon Islands cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan, and established relations with China. The island nation signed a security treaty with Beijing three years later.

Sogavare announced on Monday that he would not seek another term as prime minister after the governing party lost a number of seats in the April 17 general election, although it secured more than any other party.

Manele said after Thursday's vote that his country continues on the recovery path after the COVID-19 pandemic and other challenges. He added, "It is not an easy task but we will be reaching out to all relevant stakeholders as we progress on a road to recovery."

In November last year, Manele told NHK he is aware that major powers such as the United States and China are interested in his country in terms of security.

But Manele noted that economic and other support from China is important, saying Solomon Islands is a small country and its main interest is development. His remarks suggested there would be no change in the island nation's pro-Beijing stance.