The meeting was expected to see regional navy chiefs reiterate their concerns to Mr Soko over the security deal, including fears that China would use the deal to establish a military base.
In the past, uniformed Chinese military personnel have attended the conference and trade fair.
But with bilateral relations between Canberra and Beijing souring in recent years, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has advised Australian officials to limit their engagement and activities until relations improve.
Australia’s planned acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines from the United States and United Kingdom under the AUKUS pact will also be in the spotlight at the conference and trade show following the unceremonious dumping by the Morrison government of the French shipbuilder Naval Group.
The government has hinted that the first sub will be delivered earlier than an indicative timetable of 2040, but has not yet explained how.
As part of nuclear-powered submarine readiness, the Navy has initiated training programs to build a critical mass of crew members, including placing people in college to study nuclear engineering and organizing exchanges with the American and British navies.
During Monday’s election campaign, Scott Morrison dismissed comments by former Prime Minister John Howard that the AUKUS deal would pave the way for a civilian nuclear industry in Australia.
Mr Morrison did not weigh in on a leaked memorandum of understanding between the Solomon Islands government and China‘s Ministry of Commerce over proposals to build docks and undersea cables, and co-operate on resource projects under -marines and deep sea fishing.
“We are very aware of what is happening in our region and the pressures that the Chinese government seeks to exert on countries in our region,” he said.
“I am very concerned, like many other Pacific leaders, about the interference and intrusion of the Chinese government in these types of arrangements and what this may mean for the peace, stability and security of the South Pacific. -west.”