Vanuatu, Solomon Islands leaders visit China

The prime ministers of Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands are paying a visit to China, where they are expected to hold high-level meetings. This comes as Beijing and Washington are vying for influence in the South Pacific region.

Vanuatu's Prime Minister Charlot Salwai has been in China since Sunday. His office says he visited the headquarters of tech giant Huawei and met with provincial officials on Monday.

Last week, Vanuatu received three newly built government offices donated by China. They include the presidential palace, which alone is worth millions of dollars. The Pacific nation recently reaffirmed its "non-aligned" status in the increasingly contested region.

Solomon Islands' Prime Minister Jeremiah Manele is also in China for a seven-day trip through next Monday.
He just took office in May.

Countries such as the US and Australia have raised concerns that he could continue the pro-China policy of his predecessor Manasseh Sogavare, who severed the country's long-held diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 2019 and established relations with China.

But last month, Manele chose Australia as his first overseas destination after taking office. He agreed with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese that Canberra will continue cooperating to provide high-quality infrastructure to the Solomon Islands.

Both Manele and Salwai are scheduled to visit Japan next week for the Pacific Islands Leaders meeting.