Chinese police are working in the remote atoll nation of Kiribati, a Pacific Ocean neighbor of Hawaii, with uniformed officers involved in community policing and a crime database program, Kiribati officials have said.

Kiribati has not publicly announced the policing deal with China, which comes as Beijing renews a push to expand security ties in the Pacific islands in an intensifying rivalry with the United States.

Kiribati, a nation of 115,000 residents, is considered strategic despite being small, as it is relatively close to Hawaii and controls one of the biggest exclusive economic zones in the world, covering more than 3.5 million square kilometers of the Pacific. It hosts a Japanese satellite tracking station.