The current conflict in Ukraine has been good at drowning out some truly big news, such as the recent China – Solomon Islands deal, with Australia New Zealand, the US and Taiwan all voicing “concerns”. What though is the deal between the two nations and why is everyone so scared?
What is the China – Solomon Islands deal?
While very little has been released about the fine-print of the deal it is generally accepted that China will be allowed to dock naval ships and that there is a provision that Beijing can send security forces “to assist in maintaining social order”.
And it is these two points that have put the willies up the land of the free, firstly the fear is that China might set up a naval base in the Solomon Islands, and the second that Chinese troops and, or police can enter the Solomon Islands during times of unrest. This was a point epitomised by Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare stating was not aimed at traditional allies but “rather at our own internal security situation stating that the pact “Was not aimed at traditional allies but rather at our own internal security situation”.
And the reason this second point is so contentious is that prior to this deal Australia were the ones who sent in troops to help with “internal security”, something they have not done so well and one might argue have contributed the Solomon Islands being what it is now, basically a failed state.
What is the situation in the Solomon Islands?
A former British colony the country attained independence in in 1978, enjoying relatively stable democracy for the next 20 years. As per the convention of the time independence meant falling under the stewardship of, or one might add neo-colonialism of Australia.
During this period the country suffered from mass corruption, as well as serious deforestation, something that would lead the country into financial ruin and partly result in what was essentially a civil war between the 1998-2003. While predominantly fought between two ethnic groups in the Solomon’s, it should also be very importantly noted that it also involved serious riots and violence against Chinese nationals and people of Chinese decent due to their perceived control of commerce. Rather like the way Jews have been treated in Europe, but with much less western sympathy.
Australian troops were sent in to help with peacekeeping and for all intents Australia pretty much took over the country, but yet things did not improve and the last 20 years have continued with more unrest and almost no improvement in the economy. These problems most recently resulted in mass rioting in the country in 2021, when once again Australia sent troops.
In the end something had to give…..
Why the China – Solomon Islands deal?
The China – Solomon Islands deal follows on from many other nations, particularly in the Pacific and Africa that are turning towards China and the reasons are really quite simple. Essentially China come and build things, loan money, or create infrastructure without preconditions, while western countries, such as Australia trying to promote notable causes such as democracy and women’s rights, but not actually giving all that much money, or doing all that much.
As one Timorese politician privately put it “Australia comes and promoted democracy, so now we have 15 presidential candidates in a country of 1.3 million, but don’t do much else. China build roads and buildings. People ask why we do business in China, but we reply if not China who else”?
And this has slowly been how the Solomon Islands have been moving. A few years ago they went against local convention by recognising the Peoples Republic of China instead of Taiwan (although with mass claims of bribery and corruption) and now the China – Solomon Islands security pact.
Why all the controversy over the China – Solomon Islands deal?
In reality it truly boils down to one rule for one and rule for another. While the world now condemns Russia for invading Ukraine due to its plan to join NATO, the Solomon Islands a sovereign nation is criticised and punished financially for daring to make its own decisions and for bringing “uncertainty” to the region. With the uncertainty being Australia losing its colony and good old fashioned fear of the yellow peril. Yes Taiwan have also voiced concerns, but this is merely because they are slowly losing influence in the few countries that previously had their back.
And as for Australia et all? Basically it is a bloody nose and a bloody nose right in their backyard and one which makes them look bad in front of their allies. Apparently the US are so “alarmed” they are even considering reopening their embassy. Well if they cared so much, why was it closed in the first place?
And this is the crux of the China – Solomon Islands deal, over 40 years of no improvements and broken promises for the west have led the country down a new path and it is very much their democratic right as a sovereign nation to do so.