Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has pledged to "firmly" support the Solomon Islands in security terms, his ministry said Thursday, as fears are mounting about Beijing's increasing military clout in the region after the two countries signed a controversial pact.

Hours after Wang touched down in the island nation, leaked documents reported by the Australian Broadcasting Corp. revealed that China is seeking a region-wide agreement with almost a dozen Pacific island countries, covering areas such as security, trade and data communication.

Wang Yi. (Kyodo)

By boosting its security and economic influence in the Asia-Pacific region, the leadership of Chinese President Xi Jinping is attempting to counter the so-called Quad, comprising the United States, Japan, India and Australia, foreign affairs experts said.

Wang's visit comes after China and the Solomon Islands last month signed a security deal that reportedly allows the deployment of Chinese police, military and other armed personnel, as well as the docking of the Asian nation's ships in the islands.

The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden has warned the Solomon Islands against any possible moves toward inviting a Chinese military presence, while Australia tried to prevent the island country from formally signing the pact with Beijing.

During his talks with Solomon Islands Foreign Minister Jeremiah Manele, Wang was quoted by the official Xinhua News Agency as saying that China's relations with the island nation have shown great resilience and vitality in past years.

China will always firmly support the Solomon Islands' efforts to safeguard national sovereignty, safety and territorial integrity, protect national unity and solidarity, and speed up national development and rejuvenation, Wang added, according to Xinhua.

Wang is on an eight-country tour of the Pacific islands.

The ABC said a draft communique and a five-year action plan were sent by China to 10 Pacific island nations with diplomatic ties with Beijing ahead of a foreign ministers' meeting on May 30.

The broadcaster also said the two leaked documents laid out a plan to expand cooperation on policing and proposed a new free trade arrangement between China and the Pacific, as well as the appointment of a new Chinese government envoy to the region.

In an apparent response to China's aggressive approach to the Pacific islands, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong on Thursday visited Fiji to meet with Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, the Fiji Broadcasting Corp. reported.

Wong said in a speech to the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat in Suva that Australia is "a partner that doesn't come with strings attached" and will not impose "unsustainable financial burdens" as Australia aims to offer an alternative to China's financial aid, according to another report by the ABC.

The Solomon Islands switched diplomatic ties from self-ruled Taiwan to mainland China in 2019.

Communist-led China and democratic Taiwan have been governed separately since they split in 1949 due to a civil war. China has regarded Taiwan as a renegade province to be reunified with the mainland, by force if necessary.

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