As of November of 2021, the Solomon Islands have erupted in violent protests over the political alignment of the nation on the global stage.
The Solomon Islands is a nation consisting of 6 main islands and countless others in the South Pacific Ocean. Historically, it has been a significant point of interest in the pacific front of World War Two, however, in recent times the Solomon Islands have not seen much international attention.
Internal struggles of violence, poverty, and unemployment have manifested into violent protests. Anti-government protestors ran rampant burning down Honirana’s Chinatown for 3 days.
Manasseh Sogvare, the Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands, requested peacekeepers from nearby Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea. Shortly after the peacekeepers arrived the situation was stabilized.
As mentioned, tensions have always been high from the ongoing violence, poverty, and unemployment that has gripped the island nation, however, a change in the nation’s global political alignment seems to have pushed the public off the edge.
Specifically, Prime Minister Sogvare has aligned the Solomon Islands with China by recognizing the People’s Republic of China over Taiwan. The people of the Solomon Islands are upset with the decision as Chinese businesses hiring foreigners over locals led to some friction between the people of the Solomon Islands and China. Additionally, some citizens have voiced reservations over the unilateral decision, saying that Prime Minister Sogvare should have held an election over the decisions. Long ongoing tensions, economic problems, violence, and a new international relations posture all contributed to the current unrest.
The decision to align itself with China over Taiwan was most likely a strategic calculation. As China grips the South China Sea and expands its power onto the Pacific at large, Sogvare most likely believed aligning his country with China would be economically and militarily beneficial.
Such beliefs are warranted as Taiwan has not been aggressively projecting its power and diplomatic ties with Beijing will most likely secure more military, humanitarian, and economic support for the small island nation. However, it is curious that Sogvare called upon US allies, specifically Australia, for aid.
Perhaps, this cry for help was a diplomatic move so that it does not polarize itself from the US and its Allies. Whatever the case is, the civil unrest from the Solomon Islands is a manifestation of China’s new foreign policy in the South China Sea. Its aggressive push for power in the Pacific has already turned up some promising alliances in the Solomon Islands.
It is going to be increasingly important for the US and its allies to counteract such Chinese power projection in the South China Sea.
Australia should continue its peacekeeping support to the Solomon Islands and the US ought to strengthen its Allies in the region.
Without proactive power projection on the United States’ part, China will become a regional hegemon and such power imbalances are sure to create more conflict that will be far worse than the unrest the Solomon islands are experiencing.
Cypress High School
<Joseph Kim / Cypress High School 10th Grade