The Solomon Islands envoy to Australia said Chinese police stationed there would be under local command.

The Solomon Islands envoy to Australia said Chinese police sent to Australia would be under the jurisdiction of local forces and would not be able to use high-handed tactics in cities such as Hong Kong.

“We’re going to make sure that what’s happened to other countries like Hong Kong doesn’t happen to our own country,” Solomon Islands High Commissioner to Australia Robert Cisilo told ABC Radio on Monday.

Sisilo’s remarks came amid concerns about China’s growing influence in the Solomon Islands, a Pacific island nation of 700,000 people, after the two countries signed a security deal last month. Under the terms of the deal, China can send armed police there to help maintain “social order.”

Cisilo said that once the Chinese police arrive in the Solomon Islands, they will be under local command.

The agreement is no different from the agreement between Australia and the Solomon Islands. During unrest in the Solomon Islands in late November, Canberra deployed more than 70 security personnel at the request of the Islands government.

“Our prime minister has been saying that we are trying to diversify our sources of aid, and in this case, we would like China to provide this support, as Australia and other countries provide the same level of support,” Cisillo said in an interview. .

Both Australia and the United States are concerned that the new deal could allow China to build a military base in the Pacific.

“The breadth of the security agreement opens the door to Chinese deployment [People’s Republic of China] military power to the Solomon Islands,” the U.S. State Department said after news of the security deal broke.

In Australia, the deal has sparked introspection on its relationship with the island nation and other Pacific nations, which China is also pursuing.

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has repeatedly denied that China will be able to build a base, while Sisilo told the ABC his government is “on alert” to development deals that could give China control over major infrastructure projects.

Countries such as the Solomon Islands may be keen to avoid the mistakes of Sri Lanka, which was forced to hand over its port infrastructure to China in 2017 when it defaulted on a huge loan.