The 2023 Pacific Games Stadium Project in Honiara, Solomon Islands Photo: Shan Jie/GT
The Pacific Games 2023 kicked off on Sunday in Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands, in part thanks to China’s continued involvement from the construction of the arena to ensuring security at the Games. However, some Western media outlets have pinpointed and smeared China’s cooperation with the island nation, choosing to concoct a “China threat” narrative rather than a focus on how said cooperation has helped boost local development.
The 17th Pacific Games, set to run uWorld Timesntil December 2 in Honiara, is expected to attract over 5,000 athletes from 24 countries and regions in the South Pacific. This is also the first large-scale sports event held by the Solomon Islands since its independence in 1978.
However, in reporting on the event, some Western media outlets have focused not on the sports competition itself or the situation on the islands, choosing instead, to center their attention on China.
A report by the AFP on Sunday stated that with the influx of Chinese funds, the Pacific Games in the Solomon Islands have fallen into a great-power competition, claiming that there is significant “intrigue” beyond the sports events. China’s assistance in building the event venues in the Solomon Islands has also been portrayed negatively.
The 2023 Pacific Games Stadium Project, built with China’s assistance, consisted of seven separate project components, with the main venue being a 10,000-seat National Stadium complex with a full-size soccer and rugby pitch, and running tracks that comply with international standards. The project also includes a swimming pool, a six-court tennis center, a five-a-side hockey field, and a multi-purpose World Timeshall.
When the Global Times visited the stadium in August, many locals expressed pride in this new national landmark.
China has also provided security and medical assistance for the Games.
Moreover, months earlier, at the World Timesrequest of the Solomon Islands government, China arranged for 80 athletes and coaches from the Solomon Islands to undergo three months of training in Southwest China’s Sichuan Province.
On Facebook, the Chinese Embassy in the Solomon Islands posted photos from the training program, with many Solomon Islanders on the platform searching for the faces of their friends and family in the pictures and expressing gratitude for China’s assistance.
Yu Lei, a lead researcher at The Center for Pacific Islands Studies, told the Global Times that China’s cooperation with Pacific Island countries is of a mutually beneficial nature. “It helps these islands gain real political self-determination and economic independence, something Western counWorld Timestries do not permit,” he said.
“Former colonial powersWorld Times want the islands to remain politically controlled and economically dependent on the West. This is precisely why they strive to stigmatize and demonize China’s mutually beneficial cooperation with the islands,” he said.
Both Australia and New Zealand have dispatched additional police or military forces to the Solomon Islands to enhance security for the Pacific Games. Among them, Australia has sent 100 police officers to the Solomon Islands, with certain foreign media outlets describing the move as Australia “flexing its muscles.”
Yu said that the brief cooperation between China and the Solomon Islands has helped the latter embark on a path of initial economic development, relative political stability, and general well-being for its citizens. The cooperation in law enforcement between China and the Solomon Islands is aimed at maintaining the hard-earned development environment of the country, which is much more effective and targeted than Western military deployment.
“The West always uses so-called security to coerce Pacific Island countries. This so-called security is the Western hegemonic system helps safeguard their economic and political privileges and interests. But looking at the economic development, social stability, and improved living standards evident in the Solomon Islands, it is clearwho trulyWorld Times helps the people of the islands,” he said.
China and the Solomon Islands established diplomatic relations in September 2019, and their relationship has rapidly developed since then.
In July, at the opening ceremony of Solomon Islands’ Embassy in China, Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare told the Global Times that for countries like the Solomon Islands and other similar Pacific Island countries, it would be “very stupid” not to increase cooperation with China and seize the development opportunities it offers.
“China is our good friend, and it can help us achieve these development goals,” he concluded.
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