China firm wins tender to redevelop Solomon Islands port -official
The Solomon Islands and China have denied the security pact would allow a naval base, however. The news came as delegations from China and the United States visited Honiara in the same week, competing for influence in the strategically-located Pacific islands nation.
The Solomon Islands has awarded a multi-million-dollar contract to a Chinese state company to upgrade an international port in Honiara in a project funded by the Asian Development Bank, an official of the island nation said on Wednesday. The China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC) was the only company to submit a bid in the competitive tender, Mike Qaqara of the infrastructure development ministry told Reuters.
"This will be upgrading the old international port in Honiara and two domestic wharves in the provinces," Qaqara said. The ADB did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Solomon Islands struck a security pact with Beijing last year, prompting concern from the United States and its allies, including Australia, New Zealand and Japan, over China's ambitions to build a naval base in the region. The Solomon Islands and China have denied the security pact would allow a naval base, however.
The news came as delegations from China and the United States visited Honiara in the same week, competing for influence in the strategically-located Pacific islands nation. Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare met the vice chairman of the China International Development Cooperation Agency, Tang Wenghong, on Tuesday and signed on to Beijing's Global Development Initiative, his office said in a statement.
The Chinese aid agency has funded infrastructure projects since Sogavare switched diplomatic recognition to Beijing from Taiwan in 2019, and development co-operation with China would be strengthened, the office added. Sogavare also held "strategic dialogue" with a visiting U.S. delegation, at which Kurt Campbell, the Indo-Pacific coordinator of the National Security Council, "reiterated our support for a free, open, secure, and prosperous Solomon Islands", the U.S. embassy in Honiara said in a statement.
The port reconstruction deal is part of a $170-million project funded by the ADB to upgrade roads and wharves, which saw CCECC awarded the roads component in 2022, the government of the Solomon Islands said. "This will see the rehabilitation of the old Honiara international port and construction of the Honiara domestic port and two provincial ports," the government said in a statement,
The two ports would be in the provinces of Makira and Renbel, it added.
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