China establishes foothold in paradise

The island nations of the pacific are often referred to as paradise on earth. Their idyllic life, amazing nature and friendly people help re-enforce this image.

Well now it seems that China has managed to establish a foothold in this paradise. 

The Foreign Ministry of China announced on 19 April that Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, and his Solomon Islands counterpart, Jeremiah Manele, had signed a security deal between the two countries last week. The increasing influence of China has worried Western powers, and a United States official visited the Solomon Islands over the weekend to find out more on the situation in the South Pacific country.

Last month, opposition politicians in the Solomon Islands leaked a draft of the deal that China and the Solomon Islands were preparing to sign. The details of the pact included the ability for China to send both police officers and armed forces to the islands as well as the ability to replenish naval vessels. While Beijing stated that the deal does not have a military element, a Solomons lawmaker said that the official version was “very close” to the draft leaked last month.

The deal comes in response to riots in the capital Honiara that targeted Chinese-owned businesses. The completion of the agreement will expand China’s leverage in the Pacific region. Although the Solomon Islands say that the pact will not undermine peace, a US National Security Council spokesperson said, “We are concerned by the lack of transparency and unspecified nature of this agreement.” An Australian Labor politician said the deal was “the worst failure of Australian foreign policy in the Pacific since the end of World War II.” Australia has long been considered the natural security partner of countries in the Pacific. Australia signed a security deal with the Solomon Islands in 2003 in response to ethnic riots.

The United States has responded to the deal by accelerating the opening of an embassy in the country. The US has not had a diplomatic presence in the Solomon Islands for nearly three decades. The US announcement was preceded by a meeting between Kurt Campbell, the top White House Indo-Pacific official, and Manasseh Sogavare, prime minister of the Solomon Islands. The White House stated that the meeting included a “substantial discussion” regarding the Beijing-Honiara security deal. The US also announced an arrangement with the Solomon Islands surrounding aid and vaccines. The visit was part of a pacific tour that included stops in Fiji and Papua New Guinea as well as meetings with high-level US military officials and allies. The situation in the Solomon Islands is emblematic of the ongoing power struggle between the West and China in the Pacific as both sides vie for influence.

China’s strategic moves to expand its regional leverage are now beginning to be taken seriously by Western powers. The deal illustrates Beijing’s increasing allure in the security area.

Sources: CommonSpace.eu with Financial Times (London), Reuters (London), and other media agencies
Picture: Chinese-Solomons meeting between the Chinese Premier and Foreign Minister, and Solomons Prime Minister and Foreign Minister in 2019 (Reuters)

Related articles

Editor's choice
News
Borrell tells the European Parliament that the situation in Afghanistan was critical, but the EU will remain engaged

Borrell tells the European Parliament that the situation in Afghanistan was critical, but the EU will remain engaged

Borrell underlined that the European Union will make every effort to support the peace process and to remain a committed partner to the Afghan people. "Of course, we will have to take into account the evolving situation, but disengagement is not an option.  We are clear on that: there is no alternative to a negotiated political settlement, through inclusive peace talks.
Editor's choice
News
Turkey holds delicate talks with Sweden and Finland ahead of a decision on their NATO membership application

Turkey holds delicate talks with Sweden and Finland ahead of a decision on their NATO membership application

Senior Turkish officials have met with government delegations from Sweden and Finland as discussions continue following Ankara's threat to veto the NATO membership application of the two Nordic countries. Most NATO countries have warmly welcomed the decision of Sweden and Finland since their membership in NATO will considerably strengthen the northern flank of the alliance, but Turkey accuses both countries of having an ambivalent position on Turkey's struggle with militant Kurdish groups. On Wednesday, Swedish and Finnish government delegations travelled to Ankara to meet with Turkish representatives in an effort to resolve the country’s doubts regarding their accession to NATO. In their first face-to-face meeting since the two Nordic countries applied for membership, Turkish representatives stressed their security concerns, and conditions regarding Sweden’s “cooperation” with Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Turkish presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin said in a statement late on Wednesday that positive steps towards the lifting of an arms embargo from Finland and Sweden had been taken. In October of 2019, Sweden and Finland were among some  European states that imposed an arms embargo on Turkey following a military incursion into Syria.

Popular

Editor's choice
News
Turkey holds delicate talks with Sweden and Finland ahead of a decision on their NATO membership application

Turkey holds delicate talks with Sweden and Finland ahead of a decision on their NATO membership application

Senior Turkish officials have met with government delegations from Sweden and Finland as discussions continue following Ankara's threat to veto the NATO membership application of the two Nordic countries. Most NATO countries have warmly welcomed the decision of Sweden and Finland since their membership in NATO will considerably strengthen the northern flank of the alliance, but Turkey accuses both countries of having an ambivalent position on Turkey's struggle with militant Kurdish groups. On Wednesday, Swedish and Finnish government delegations travelled to Ankara to meet with Turkish representatives in an effort to resolve the country’s doubts regarding their accession to NATO. In their first face-to-face meeting since the two Nordic countries applied for membership, Turkish representatives stressed their security concerns, and conditions regarding Sweden’s “cooperation” with Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Turkish presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin said in a statement late on Wednesday that positive steps towards the lifting of an arms embargo from Finland and Sweden had been taken. In October of 2019, Sweden and Finland were among some  European states that imposed an arms embargo on Turkey following a military incursion into Syria.