Beijing looking to buy deepwater port, WWII airstrip in Solomon Islands

A Chinese state-owned firm is investigating the purchase of a deep water port and a World War II-era airstrip and marine base in the Solomon Islands, according to new documents obtained by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

The China Forestry Group Corporation, under the direct control of Beijing, is scoping out acquisition targets, including a forestry plantation on the circle-shaped island of Kolombangara—the site of extensive fighting between the Allies and Imperial Japan during World War II.

The plantation covers two-thirds of the island and includes 14,000 hectares of hardwood forest, 24,000 hectares of protected forest, a deep water port, an old marine base, airstrip, and large tracts of flat land.

Kolombangara is also part of the New Georgia Islands group, within the Western Province of the Solomon Islands. It is located near a major tuna fishing hub, Noro, as well as the town of Munda, where there is already extensive Chinese investment in the airport.

Talks for Kolombangara began in 2019 when a delegation from China Forestry visited the island. However, while the delegation showed little interest in the trees, there appeared to be interest in the wharf and its depth.