China police boost Solomon Islands but won't use tactics seen in Hong Kong

China police boost Solomon Islands but won't use tactics seen in Hong Kong

China's police presence under a new security pact will boost the capabilities of the Solomon Islands but they won't use techniques seen in Hong Kong, the top diplomat to Australia, said in a radio interview on Monday.

Western allies worry that Chinese police sent there may use the same ruthless techniques previously used to quell anti-government protests in Hong Kong because of concerns it gives China's military a strategic foothold in the Pacific.

The Solomon Islands are beefing up their capacity after local police were unable to contain anti-government riots in the Chinatown section of Honiara in November, Solomon Islands High Commissioner to Australia Robert Sisilo told ABC Radio.

Under the pact, Chinese military police could be called on, but they will operate under the command of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force, just like Australian police that have deployed there, he said.

He said that we will try and do our best in terms of dealing with them to make sure that what is happening in other countries, like Hong Kong, doesn't happen in our country.

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manesseh Sogavare has ruled out a Chinese military base and said it covers policing because an agreement with traditional partner Australia was inadequate, despite the fact that details of the security pact haven't been disclosed. Sisilo said that we are not trying to move away from Australia, but instead are looking for more cooperation with China.

He said that unemployment was a factor in the November riots. Canberra could increase our relationship by providing more work visas and permanent residency permits.

Australia had granted 3,000 visas to Solomon Island citizens under a labor scheme that allows Pacific islanders to work in rural areas.

If only the scheme could be extended to the whole of Australia's metropolitan cities, where demand for plumbers, bricklayers, caregivers and domestic servants is huge, he said.

The Solomon Islands has a population of around 700,000 and relies on foreign aid from Australia and increasingly China to bolster its economy.