In potentially opening the door to a Chinese military base, the Solomon Islands threatens the balance of power in a vital shipping region.
By Damien CaveApril 20, 2022Updated 7:42 a.m. ET
“SYDNEY, Australia — When the Solomon Islands’ prime minister stood before Parliament on Wednesday to announce that his government had signed a sweeping security agreement with China, he insisted that it would “not adversely impact or undermine the peace and harmony of our region.”
The prime minister, Manasseh Sogavare, did not explain why he delivered the news just a few days before a delegation of senior American diplomats was set to arrive in the country’s capital, and while neighboring Australia is in the midst of an election campaign. Nor did he say whether the signed version matched an earlier leaked draft that offered an opening for Chinese law enforcement, troops and warships — and perhaps even a Beijing-controlled military base in the strategically important Pacific.
But with a mix of secrecy and vague assurance, Mr. Sogavare has shaken his own democracy and the stability of the entire Asia-Pacific region. Having already suggested that he wants to delay next year’s election by rewriting the constitution, the prime minister now has China to lean on if protests break out. At the same time, China’s leader, Xi Jinping, and his army now have a foothold in an island chain that played a decisive role in World War II and could be used to block vital shipping lanes.”
David Lindsay Jr.Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
“In a poll late last year, more than 90 percent of Solomon Islanders said they wanted their country to work closely with liberal democratic countries instead of China, and 79 percent said they did not want their country receiving financial aid from China.” If this is a coup by China, it is perhaps time for a counter coup of some sort.