Why the US-China conflict over the Solomon Islands

The government of the Solomon Islands has signed a security agreement with China. Beijing announced the signing of the agreement last Tuesday, a major blow to its western allies in the Solomon Islands. Diplomats from China and the United States have been working tirelessly to strengthen ties with the island.

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Meanwhile, the United States and Australia, old allies of the Solomon Islands in the Pacific, have expressed deep doubts about the agreement. They feared the deal would allow Chinese troops to enter the South Pacific.

A White House delegation arrived in the Oceanian country of Solomon Islands on Friday, AFP reported from the Solomon Islands. They were being taken to the city in a white minibus after arriving at the airport in the capital Honiara. On the same day, Chinese Ambassador Li Ming was close to the White House delegation. He was then at a function with Prime Minister Manaseh Sogavar. The ceremony was to hand over a ‘running track’ from China.

It is part of the Chinese-funded National Stadium Complex. It is known that the construction of this complex has cost 53 million dollars. In 2023, the country will host the Pacific Games for the first time in this complex.

“On behalf of the Chinese government and people, we would like to congratulate the government of the Solomon Islands,” said Li Ming, China’s ambassador to Solomon, on China’s recent investment in the country.

Concerns spread across the region when a draft of the agreement with China was leaked last month. The issue is particularly important in the draft, which calls for the deployment of Chinese naval forces to the Solomon Islands. The United States and Australia launched a diplomatic race to block the deal. But they failed in the end. The distance from Solomon to Australia is less than two thousand kilometers.

‘Lack of transparency’

A US diplomatic mission is visiting Fiji, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands this week to maintain ties, security and peace in the Pacific. But it is too late for the United States to halt the signing of a security agreement between China and the Solomon Islands.

“We are concerned about the lack of clarity and precision in the agreement,” a State Department official told AFP this week.
However, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavar dismissed concerns from Washington and Canberra that the agreement would not result in a Chinese military base in Solomon.

However, Manasehr’s words did not satisfy the Australian Prime Minister. Asked about Chinese influence in the Pacific, Scott Morrison told reporters yesterday that Beijing was putting “tremendous pressure” on Pacific island leaders.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijan has accused Australian politicians of pursuing “coercive diplomacy” in the region. He compared the activities of Western nations in the Solomon Islands to the internal intervention of a country.

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