Solomon Islands journalists shut out of China foreign minister visit, raising secrecy concerns

5/25/2022 6:37:00 AM

Solomon Islands journalists shut out of China foreign minister visit, raising secrecy concerns

China, Asia Pacific

Solomon Islands journalists shut out of China foreign minister visit, raising secrecy concerns

Wang Yi will visit eight countries in 10 days, but media access to his diplomatic push has been severely restricted

Read more Despite speculation about the trip for weeks, China’s foreign ministry refused to answer questions about the potential visit until Tuesday night, on the eve of the trip.Tuesday 24 May 2022 16:33, UK Image: Why you can trust Sky News China's foreign minister is visiting the Solomon Islands this week amid Western fears that Beijing is seeking greater influence in the Pacific.Russian forces invaded Ukraine on February 24, with Tuesday marking three months since the war began.there are now reports that Beijing could be planning to strike a similar agreement with Kiribati.

Even then, foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin refused to confirm when Wang Yi would arrive in Solomon Islands. Journalists seeking to cover the Solomon Islands leg of the tour for international outlets say they have been blocked from attending press events, while those journalists allowed access are extremely limited in their ability to ask questions. Mr Wang will address a 20-person delegation and is expected to sign a controversial security deal struck between China and the Solomon Islands that was leaked in March. Georgina Kekea, the president of the Media Association of Solomon Islands, said getting information about the Wang’s visit to the country, including an itinerary, had been very difficult. More than 3,000 air strikes by Russian aircraft and helicopters have also targeted Ukraine. “We’ve been asking for copies of the program so we can participate in terms of getting video or having interviews but it’s not forthcoming. This has led to major fears the Chinese could be planning to set up a military base on the island, which is of huge strategic importance in the Pacific region. I don’t know how to term that, whether its restriction of the press, I guess it is,” she said. But regional leaders have called on Australia to go further by taking steps such as committing to allow no new coal and gas projects and to curb fossil fuel exports – steps which Labor has not adopted.

She said there was just one press event scheduled in Honiara during Wang’s two-day visit – on Thursday – but that only journalists from two Solomon Islands’ newspapers, the national broadcaster, and Chinese media were permitted to attend. He will also host a meeting of all Pacific Island foreign ministers while in Fiji. Reporters such as Kekea, who often work for international outlets such as the Guardian and Al Jazeera, have not been granted credentials for the event. “We know the borders for Solomon Islands have been closed since 2020 so we do not have international journalists to cover the story and it’s an event that is of international interest, so a few of the reporters work for international organisations … but we are not given that opportunity to be a part of the media group that are given credentials to be there in person,” she said. The summit was aimed at limiting Beijing's economic and military in the region, where Australia and New Zealand dominate and tensions run high over the issue of Taiwan. Kekea said the reason given was concern about Covid, but she felt that was “just an excuse”. Solomon Islands has recorded 18,000 cases of the virus and around 150 deaths, with deaths spiking in late February. His administration has pledged to set up a Pacific defence school that would train nearby armies to counter a potential Chinese military presence on the Solomon Islands. But we will also do it better.

Kekea added that from the program she has seen, press will be given the opportunity to ask only two questions of the foreign minister: one from a Solomon Islands journalist and one from Chinese media. “It’s quite worrying for us, we really have good freedom to do our work, but when it comes to these events, they seem to be blocking us. "Prime Minister Sogavare looks forward to a productive engagement with PRC (the People's Republic of China) as an important development partner at a very critical time in our history," a statement said.” There is still secrecy surrounding the text of the security deal signed by China and Solomon Islands. It has not been made public or shared with members of parliament, despite the Opposition calling for this to happen." Related Topics. Dorothy Wickham, a veteran Solomon Islands’ journalist, wrote earlier this month that since the draft security deal leaked she has seen a media “blackout” unlike anything she has experienced in her three decades in journalism. We will achieve our shared aspirations together.

Of the upcoming visit, Wickham tweeted: “Well, let’s hope we are treated with some form of respect and given a press conference after all formalities are completed.” Read more It is widely expected that China will sign further agreements with Solomon Islands during its visit and will be looking to sign agreements with other Pacific nations during the tour as well. Vanuatu has just signed a contract with China for the construction of a new runway extension at Pekoa airport on the island of Santo, to allow access for larger aircraft, making it accessible for the delivery of humanitarian aid. There are concerns that Kiribati could sign a deal with China, giving it special fishing rights in the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA), which was one of the world’s largest marine protected areas, until the Kiribati government announced last year it would open up PIPA to commercial fishing . Dr Anna Powles, a senior lecturer in security studies at Massey University in New Zealand, said that while Australia, New Zealand and the US will be watching China’s Pacific tour closely, there is not much they can or should do to prevent sovereign Pacific nations signing deals with China.

“These are sovereign countries who will pursue deals based on their national interests,” she said. “What Australia, New Zealand and the US can do is seek to be better partners and seek to deepen those relationships so that when deals like these are being made, New Zealand and Australia particularly, can support Pacific countries to get the best deal possible … and from a strategic point of view that reduces the permission space that China can operate in.” Topics .

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Read more Despite speculation about the trip for weeks, China’s foreign ministry refused to answer questions about the potential visit until Tuesday night, on the eve of the trip.Tuesday 24 May 2022 16:33, UK Image: Why you can trust Sky News China's foreign minister is visiting the Solomon Islands this week amid Western fears that Beijing is seeking greater influence in the Pacific.Russian forces invaded Ukraine on February 24, with Tuesday marking three months since the war began.there are now reports that Beijing could be planning to strike a similar agreement with Kiribati.

Even then, foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin refused to confirm when Wang Yi would arrive in Solomon Islands. Journalists seeking to cover the Solomon Islands leg of the tour for international outlets say they have been blocked from attending press events, while those journalists allowed access are extremely limited in their ability to ask questions. Mr Wang will address a 20-person delegation and is expected to sign a controversial security deal struck between China and the Solomon Islands that was leaked in March. Georgina Kekea, the president of the Media Association of Solomon Islands, said getting information about the Wang’s visit to the country, including an itinerary, had been very difficult. More than 3,000 air strikes by Russian aircraft and helicopters have also targeted Ukraine. “We’ve been asking for copies of the program so we can participate in terms of getting video or having interviews but it’s not forthcoming. This has led to major fears the Chinese could be planning to set up a military base on the island, which is of huge strategic importance in the Pacific region. I don’t know how to term that, whether its restriction of the press, I guess it is,” she said. But regional leaders have called on Australia to go further by taking steps such as committing to allow no new coal and gas projects and to curb fossil fuel exports – steps which Labor has not adopted.

She said there was just one press event scheduled in Honiara during Wang’s two-day visit – on Thursday – but that only journalists from two Solomon Islands’ newspapers, the national broadcaster, and Chinese media were permitted to attend. He will also host a meeting of all Pacific Island foreign ministers while in Fiji. Reporters such as Kekea, who often work for international outlets such as the Guardian and Al Jazeera, have not been granted credentials for the event. “We know the borders for Solomon Islands have been closed since 2020 so we do not have international journalists to cover the story and it’s an event that is of international interest, so a few of the reporters work for international organisations … but we are not given that opportunity to be a part of the media group that are given credentials to be there in person,” she said. The summit was aimed at limiting Beijing's economic and military in the region, where Australia and New Zealand dominate and tensions run high over the issue of Taiwan. Kekea said the reason given was concern about Covid, but she felt that was “just an excuse”. Solomon Islands has recorded 18,000 cases of the virus and around 150 deaths, with deaths spiking in late February. His administration has pledged to set up a Pacific defence school that would train nearby armies to counter a potential Chinese military presence on the Solomon Islands. But we will also do it better.

Kekea added that from the program she has seen, press will be given the opportunity to ask only two questions of the foreign minister: one from a Solomon Islands journalist and one from Chinese media. “It’s quite worrying for us, we really have good freedom to do our work, but when it comes to these events, they seem to be blocking us. "Prime Minister Sogavare looks forward to a productive engagement with PRC (the People's Republic of China) as an important development partner at a very critical time in our history," a statement said.” There is still secrecy surrounding the text of the security deal signed by China and Solomon Islands. It has not been made public or shared with members of parliament, despite the Opposition calling for this to happen." Related Topics. Dorothy Wickham, a veteran Solomon Islands’ journalist, wrote earlier this month that since the draft security deal leaked she has seen a media “blackout” unlike anything she has experienced in her three decades in journalism. We will achieve our shared aspirations together.

Of the upcoming visit, Wickham tweeted: “Well, let’s hope we are treated with some form of respect and given a press conference after all formalities are completed.” Read more It is widely expected that China will sign further agreements with Solomon Islands during its visit and will be looking to sign agreements with other Pacific nations during the tour as well. Vanuatu has just signed a contract with China for the construction of a new runway extension at Pekoa airport on the island of Santo, to allow access for larger aircraft, making it accessible for the delivery of humanitarian aid. There are concerns that Kiribati could sign a deal with China, giving it special fishing rights in the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA), which was one of the world’s largest marine protected areas, until the Kiribati government announced last year it would open up PIPA to commercial fishing . Dr Anna Powles, a senior lecturer in security studies at Massey University in New Zealand, said that while Australia, New Zealand and the US will be watching China’s Pacific tour closely, there is not much they can or should do to prevent sovereign Pacific nations signing deals with China.

“These are sovereign countries who will pursue deals based on their national interests,” she said. “What Australia, New Zealand and the US can do is seek to be better partners and seek to deepen those relationships so that when deals like these are being made, New Zealand and Australia particularly, can support Pacific countries to get the best deal possible … and from a strategic point of view that reduces the permission space that China can operate in.” Topics .