The state-owned China Forestry Group Corp., is looking to purchase a privately owned plantation on the island of Kolombangara, which is part of the Solomon Islands. The island in question has 14,000 hectares (almost 34,600 acres) of forest, a deep-water port, and an airstrip which was build in WWII.
A delegation from China Forestry Group Corp. visited the plantation that covers most of Kolombangar Island in 2019, asking questions about the length of the wharf and depth of the water while showing little interest in the trees, Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported on Monday.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation also reported that some board members of the forestry have recently written to the new Australian government regarding what they saw as the “risks/strategic threats” that such a purchase might create. The ABC said that the Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade wrote back to the board last week saying it was “not intervening”.
China has recently been trying to curry favor with the Solomons with foreign investment and offering a bilateral security pact. This has caused many western nations who have an interest in the Pacific to increase diplomatic outreach with the Solomons. As a result of this Solomon’s PM Manasseh Sogavare stated that he would not allow China to build any military bases in his country.
Foreign Minister Penny Wong’s office told The Associated Press that Australia was continuing to engage with KFPL on the potential sale.