In high-level US visit to Solomon Islands, China looms large

A high-ranking US delegation lands in the Solomon Islands Saturday, as Washington wrestles with Beijing for influence in the region months after the Pacific nation signed a secretive security pact with China.

China's growing might in the Asia-Pacific will be on display this weekend as it continues to stage military drills encircling Taiwan in a show of force following US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to the self-ruled island.

Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman heads the US delegation visiting the Solomons for three days to mark the 80th anniversary of the World War II Battle of Guadalcanal.

Sherman's father was a Marine who was seriously injured in the battle, a major offensive over six months in 1942 and 1943 that triggered a Japanese withdrawal and marked the start of major Allied operations in the Pacific.

The United States announced this year it plans to re-establish an embassy in the Solomons nearly 30 years after closing its last mission.

China, which has an embassy in the Solomons with close ties to its government, alarmed Western rivals by signing an undisclosed security pact with the island in April.