Can You Blame Poor Countries Like Mine for Turning to China?

June 27, 2022

By Dorothy Wickham

Ms. Wickham is a Solomon Islands journalist.

“HONIARA, Solomon Islands — Judging from the American and Australian reactions, China’s push to raise its profile in the Pacific Ocean seems frightening indeed.

Secretive negotiations between Beijing and the government of my home country, the Solomon Islands, have raised speculation that they could lead to a Chinese military presence here. Our government has denied this. But Washington has warned that these developments would “set a concerning precedent” that could destabilize the Pacific, and at least one Australian politician fretted that the Solomons might become a “little Cuba off our coast.”

Like many of my fellow islanders, I am uncomfortable, too — about the lack of transparency in our government’s dealings with China, about Beijing’s ultimate motives and the potential impact all this could have on our fragile institutions.”