Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, left, shakes hands with China's Premier Li Qiang ©Getty Images

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has hailed the support of China in the staging of the upcoming Pacific Games, claiming "no other nations believed in us".

Sogavare made his comments before making the trip to China last Sunday (July 9).

It is his second official visit to China since the Solomon Islands forged diplomatic ties with the Asian nation in September 2019.

China is providing significant backing for the Pacific Games with approximately SBD1.85 billion (£171 million/$218 million/€200 million) in funding, including for construction of the main stadium.

It is also helping to train Solomon Islands athletes as a 80-strong group travelled there last week for the start of a 90-day camp.

Speaking to Chinese official state news agency Xinhua, Sogavare said China’s support was "something that touches the hearts of every Solomon Islander" and had "strengthened the people-to-people relationship".

"When we won the bid [for the Pacific Games], no other nations believed in us. We were struggling, and China stood by our side and assisted us," said Sogavare.

"It's the first time that we will host this game.

"It is very important for us. We are a post-conflict country.

"That great investment is not only an investment in sport; it is an investment in peace and stability of this country."

China has provided a huge financial injection to help the Solomon Islands stage the Pacific Games later this year ©Getty Images
China has provided a huge financial injection to help the Solomon Islands stage the Pacific Games later this year ©Getty Images

Sogavare switched the Solomon Islands’ diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to Beijing in 2019 and also signed a security agreement with China, much to the dislike of the United States.

China and the United States are competing against each other to gain influence over the Pacific region.

"We progress and stand shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand, in pursuing issues of common interest to the two countries," said Sogavare.

"I need to make it very clear that we are a sovereign country.

"Who we forge diplomatic relations with and who we engage in technical cooperation, in development cooperation, is none of anyone's business.

"It is a matter between the Solomon Islands and China."

Australia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Japan have also provided financial aid for the Pacific Games.

The Solomon Islands initially had support from Taiwan until it switched allegiances to China.

This year’s Pacific Games is due to take place from November 19 to December 2 in the city of Honiara.