China’s influence in the Solomon Islands worries the United States

International – a military establishment of concern by China. US envoys visiting the Solomon Islands on Friday, April 22, warned against any Chinese “military installation” in the Pacific archipelago, which recently signed a wide-ranging security agreement with Beijing.

And the Solomon Islands and Beijing announced at the weekend the signing of a security agreement with ambiguous outlines that re-ignited the concerns of the United States, as well as the concerns of Australia, neighboring the archipelago, in the face of possible Chinese military ambitions in this regard. region of the world.

Against this tense backdrop, the high-ranking US delegation, led by the White House and State Department officials in Asia and the Pacific Kurt Campbell and Daniel Krettenbrink, landed at the airport in the capital, Honiara, an AFP correspondent reported.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavari greeted for 90 minutes, and diplomats were only able to repeat US warnings, after they were surprised Tuesday’s formalization of the controversial agreement’s signing.

They warned that if Beijing moved toward “establishing a de facto permanent military presence,” a “military facility” or “display of force capabilities” that would allow for Chinese deployments in the region, it would cause “serious concerns” in the United States. The White House said in a statement that countries that “(will retaliate) accordingly.”

A leaked copy of the agreement last month sent shockwaves through Australia and the United States as it included proposals to allow Chinese police and navy deployments to the Solomon Islands. Since then, they have redoubled their diplomatic efforts against this rapprochement to no avail.

Power struggle between China and the United States

Canberra and Washington have long worried that China could build a naval base in the South Pacific that would allow it to project its naval power beyond its borders.

France also considered this agreement “disturbing” on Thursday, and worried about “Chinese ambitions” in the Asia-Pacific region. New Caledonia, a French territory, is located 500 kilometers south of the coast closest to the Solomon Islands.

“In response to the concerns raised, Prime Minister Sogavari specifically reiterated his assurances that there would be no military base, no long-term presence, and no force projection capabilities,” the statement read. The United States confirmed that it would follow developments closely.

But the Americans also tried to woo the islands by doubling down on gestures toward them. Among them, speeding up the opening of a US embassy, ​​strengthening cooperation on unexploded mines, sending a hospital ship to aid public health or delivering additional vaccines.

The two countries also pledged to launch a “high-level strategic dialogue” that will focus in particular on the sensitive issue of security.

A sign that the archipelago is at the center of all attention: At the time of the arrival of the US delegation, the Chinese ambassador and Manaseh Sogavari inaugurated the athletics track that is part of a massive Chinese-funded sports complex to host the 2023 Pacific Games.

At the end of 2021, the Solomon Islands were shaken by deadly riots fueled by the resentment of part of the population against the growing influence of China. Chinese-owned businesses were vandalized and burned in Honiara.

Since then, Beijing, which has sent police trainers and riot-control equipment, has sought to bolster the archipelago’s protection system. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday that China is putting “tremendous pressure” on the leaders of island nations.

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