TIMES.KY

Cayman Islands, Caribbeanand International News
Monday, Feb 26, 2024

Unpredictable Solomon Islands fuels U.S. concern as China's influence grows

Unpredictable Solomon Islands fuels U.S. concern as China's influence grows

Months after the Solomon Islands struck a security pact with China, its leader has repeatedly appeared to snub the United States, heightening Washington's concern but not deterring it from trying to keep the Pacific nation out of Beijing's orbit.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare's unpredictable diplomacy will make it hard for the United States to make up lost ground with the pivotal island nation as China seeks to expand its security presence, former diplomats and other analysts say.

As part of a push to boost engagement and counter China's growing influence, the administration of President Joe Biden plans to open an embassy for the first time in three decades in the Solomon Islands, an archipelago that switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to Beijing in 2019 and in April sealed the security agreement with China.

Washington has since faced a series of rebuffs from Sogavare, who continues to keep dialogue open on U.S. aid.

Last month he skipped a planned appearance with a senior U.S. official at a World War Two commemoration. His government did not respond to a U.S. Coast Guard vessel's request to refuel, a move Washington called "regrettable". Sogavare then announced he was barring all foreign navy ships from port - while he was welcoming a U.S. Navy hospital ship on a humanitarian mission.

China's state-owned Global Times newspaper said in an editorial that the prime minister was "counteracting" against Washington.

The U.S. State Department declined to comment. A spokesperson for Senator Marsha Blackburn, who last week visited Sogavare, said it was "extremely concerning that Solomon Islands are blocking military vessels from their waters".

Sogavare has a history of erratic behaviour, which contributed to him previously losing office as prime minister, said Australian National University Pacific expert Graeme Smith.

Michael Green, a former senior U.S. national security official, said the halt to navy visits is a "net loss" for the United States, which had access before the deal with China, but it does not mean "the game is over".

"We also don't know whether Prime Minister Sogavare is paralysed with indecision given the tough geopolitics - or in the pocket of Beijing - or both," said Green, who heads the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney. "Either way, the U.S. and Australia have to keep at engagement and prove we are trusted partners."

Sogavare's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

'PRESSURED FROM ALL SIDES'


Sogavare is pushing back against pro-democracy messaging from Washington to avoid being a pawn in a superpower contest, said Mihai Sora, an Australian former diplomat in the Solomon Islands. "Particularly to Sogavare, it is antagonising."

His abrupt absence from the 80th anniversary commemoration of the Battle of Guadalcanal played into China's goals of keeping U.S. influence at bay, said Sora, a research fellow at Australia's Lowy Institute think tank.

"Of all the Pacific islands leaders, Sogavare is the one that is most accommodating to China's strategic intent," he said.

Washington had little engagement with the Solomon Islands before Honiara sealed the pact with China and has a lot of diplomatic ground to make up, Sora said.

Catherine Egbert-Gray, who frequently met Sogavare when she was U.S. ambassador to the Solomon Islands, said China's assertive diplomacy only reinforces the U.S. decision to increase development assistance and reopen its embassy in Honiara.

Around the time Sogavare recognised Beijing, "he appeared confident he could maintain good and strong relations with all diplomatic partners," she said. "I hope he remains committed to this goal and does not allow unsavoury influences to break down long-held friendships to the long-term detriment of the nation."

James Batley, who from 2004 to 2006 led the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands, an international security response to violent clashes there, said Honiara's foreign navy moratorium likely also applies to Chinese vessels.

"It is a way of buying them breathing space," he said. "I do think they feel pressured from all sides".

Newsletter

Related Articles

TIMES.KY
0:00
0:00
Close
Paper straws found to contain long-lasting and potentially toxic chemicals - study
FTX's Bankman-Fried headed for jail after judge revokes bail
Blackrock gets half a trillion dollar deal to rebuild Ukraine
Israel: Unprecedented Civil Disobedience Looms as IDF Reservists Protest Judiciary Reform
America's First New Nuclear Reactor in Nearly Seven Years Begins Operations
Southeast Asia moves closer to economic unity with new regional payments system
Today Hunter Biden’s best friend and business associate, Devon Archer, testified that Joe Biden met in Georgetown with Russian Moscow Mayor's Wife Yelena Baturina who later paid Hunter Biden $3.5 million in so called “consulting fees”
Singapore Carries Out First Execution of a Woman in Two Decades Amid Capital Punishment Debate
Google testing journalism AI. We are doing it already 2 years, and without Google biased propoganda and manipulated censorship
Unlike illegal imigrants coming by boats - US Citizens Will Need Visa To Travel To Europe in 2024
Musk announces Twitter name and logo change to X.com
The politician and the journalist lost control and started fighting on live broadcast.
The future of sports
Unveiling the Black Hole: The Mysterious Fate of EU's Aid to Ukraine
Farewell to a Music Titan: Tony Bennett, Renowned Jazz and Pop Vocalist, Passes Away at 96
Alarming Behavior Among Florida's Sharks Raises Concerns Over Possible Cocaine Exposure
Transgender Exclusion in Miss Italy Stirs Controversy Amidst Changing Global Beauty Pageant Landscape
Joe Biden admitted, in his own words, that he delivered what he promised in exchange for the $10 million bribe he received from the Ukraine Oil Company.
TikTok Takes On Spotify And Apple, Launches Own Music Service
Global Trend: Using Anti-Fake News Laws as Censorship Tools - A Deep Dive into Tunisia's Scenario
Arresting Putin During South African Visit Would Equate to War Declaration, Asserts President Ramaphosa
Hacktivist Collective Anonymous Launches 'Project Disclosure' to Unearth Information on UFOs and ETIs
Typo sends millions of US military emails to Russian ally Mali
Server Arrested For Theft After Refusing To Pay A Table's $100 Restaurant Bill When They Dined & Dashed
The Changing Face of Europe: How Mass Migration is Reshaping the Political Landscape
China Urges EU to Clarify Strategic Partnership Amid Trade Tensions
Europe is boiling: Extreme Weather Conditions Prevail Across the Continent
The Last Pour: Anchor Brewing, America's Pioneer Craft Brewer, Closes After 127 Years
Democracy not: EU's Digital Commissioner Considers Shutting Down Social Media Platforms Amid Social Unrest
Sarah Silverman and Renowned Authors Lodge Copyright Infringement Case Against OpenAI and Meta
Italian Court's Controversial Ruling on Sexual Harassment Ignites Uproar
Why Do Tech Executives Support Kennedy Jr.?
The New York Times Announces Closure of its Sports Section in Favor of The Athletic
BBC Anchor Huw Edwards Hospitalized Amid Child Sex Abuse Allegations, Family Confirms
Florida Attorney General requests Meta CEO's testimony on company's platforms' alleged facilitation of illicit activities
The Distorted Mirror of actual approval ratings: Examining the True Threat to Democracy Beyond the Persona of Putin
40,000 child slaves in Congo are forced to work in cobalt mines so we can drive electric cars.
BBC Personalities Rebuke Accusations Amidst Scandal Involving Teen Exploitation
A Swift Disappointment: Why Is Taylor Swift Bypassing Canada on Her Global Tour?
Historic Moment: Edgars Rinkevics, EU's First Openly Gay Head of State, Takes Office as Latvia's President
Bye bye democracy, human rights, freedom: French Cops Can Now Secretly Activate Phone Cameras, Microphones And GPS To Spy On Citizens
The Poor Man With Money, Mark Zuckerberg, Unveils Twitter Replica with Heavy-Handed Censorship: A New Low in Innovation?
Unilever Plummets in a $2.5 Billion Free Fall, to begin with: A Reckoning for Misuse of Corporate Power Against National Interest
Beyond the Blame Game: The Need for Nuanced Perspectives on America's Complex Reality
Twitter Targets Meta: A Tangle of Trade Secrets and Copycat Culture
The Double-Edged Sword of AI: AI is linked to layoffs in industry that created it
US Sanctions on China's Chip Industry Backfire, Prompting Self-Inflicted Blowback
Meta Copy Twitter with New App, Threads
The New French Revolution
BlackRock Bitcoin ETF Application Refiled, Naming Coinbase as ‘Surveillance-Sharing’ Partner
×