U.S. President Joe Biden and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern smile as the press exit the room after they both made a few public remarks during a meeting in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 31, 2022. REUTERS/Leah Millis

US, New Zealand leaders express concern over China-Solomon Islands agreement


TOKYO (NHK) — US President Joe Biden has expressed strong concern over China’s security accord with the Solomon Islands, and vowed deeper US involvement with Pacific island nations.

Biden held a meeting with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the White House on Tuesday.

Before their summit, Biden told reporters, “We have more work to do in those Pacific Islands.” He was referring to China’s growing influence in the region.

In their post-summit joint statement, the two leaders noted “with concern” the security agreement between China and the Solomon Islands signed in April.

They said the US and New Zealand “share a concern that the establishment of a persistent military presence in the Pacific by a state that does not share our values or security interests would fundamentally alter the strategic balance of the region and pose national-security concerns to both our countries.”

While Ardern reiterated her support for the trade framework under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP, she said the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework that Biden brought to the table last week “presents a significant opportunity to build the economic resilience of our region.”

In Beijing, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian expressed firm opposition to what he described as efforts to smear normal cooperation between China and Pacific island nations.

Zhao told reporters on Wednesday that the security agreement with the Solomons does not target a third country and China has no intention of building a military base there.

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