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(Source: New York Times)

China’s Malign Influence in the South Pacific

The New York Times published a lengthy article by Damien Cave titled China’s Mad Dash Into a Strategic Island Nation Breeds Resentment which describes in detail how China has come to dominate the economy and politics of Solomon Islands since 2019. China has built a large embassy, begun constructing a stadium complex and signed secretive deals with the government on security, aviation, telecommunications. “The Solomon Islands has been portrayed by Chinese state media as a model of what China’s international efforts can accomplish.”

However, a growing number of the locals in this nation of 700,000 “complain about unfulfilled promises on pay. Residents fret that the prime minister and Chinese officials are undermining democracy, as politicians who resisted China’s plans, or just asked tough questions, have reported that their rivals are suddenly flush with money and pro-China messages that the public is expected to simply accept. They see it less as a benign partner than as an imperious and corrupting force that raises the risk of conflict.”

This period of growing Chinese presence has witnessed anti-government riots targeting Chinese businesses; increased debt load for the government; and the government’s signing of a security deal in April 2022 that “gives China a right to send police officers or naval vessels to the country with few limitations.”

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