Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will visit the Solomon Islands in the southwest Pacific Ocean soon, his ministry said Tuesday, amid mounting fears that Beijing's military influence may grow in the region.
In April, China and the Solomon Islands signed a security pact, which would reportedly allow the deployment of Chinese police, military and other armed personnel, as well as the docking of the Asian nation's ships in the islands.
By bolstering its security and economic clout in the Asia-Pacific region, the leadership of Chinese President Xi Jinping is trying to counter the so-called Quad, comprising the United States, Japan, India and Australia, foreign affairs experts said.
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 attempted to prevent the island country from formally signing the agreement with Beijing.
Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said in a statement released following their summit on Monday that the pact between China and the Solomon Islands "was concluded in a nontransparent manner without addressing regional voices of concern."
Wang is scheduled to visit seven Pacific island nations including the Solomon Islands and East Timor from Thursday to June 4 as requested by them, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters in Beijing on Tuesday that the official trip by the country's foreign minister would contribute to prompting "peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region."
The spokesman said the foreign minister is also planning to visit the Pacific island nation of Kiribati, which is located between Australia and Hawaii -- the U.S. island state that has a large number of military bases aimed at maintaining security in the region.
Speculation is rife that China might be eager to strike a security agreement with Kiribati to challenge the United States.
The leaders of the Quad countries, meanwhile, confirmed at their summit in Tokyo on Tuesday that they strongly oppose any coercive, provocative and unilateral actions that seek to change the status quo and increase tensions in the East and South China seas.
The in-person Quad summit was the second of its kind and the first hosted by Japan. China has urged other nations not to create a "small circle" targeting the Asian power.
The Solomon Islands and Kiribati switched their diplomatic relations from self-ruled Taiwan to mainland China in 2019. The Solomon Islands has denied that the security pact invites China to establish a military base there.
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.