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Solomon Islands Gripped by Anti-China Protests as US Keeps Largely Mum

© REUTERS / Zfm RadioSmoke rises from burning buildings in Chinatown of Solomon Islands' capital Honiara, Solomon Islands, November 25, 2021 in this picture obtained from a social media video. @Zfm Radio My Favourite Music Station via REUTERS
Smoke rises from burning buildings in Chinatown of Solomon Islands' capital Honiara, Solomon Islands, November 25, 2021 in this picture obtained from a social media video. @Zfm Radio My Favourite Music Station via REUTERS   - Sputnik International, 1920, 27.11.2021
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Washington has repeatedly accused Beijing of trying to "buy" regional powers with cash and investments while vowing to deter China, which the White House calls its key potential rival right now. And yet the US has taken no significant steps in the Solomon Islands.
Protests and riots have gripped the capital of the Solomon Islands, a small state in the Pacific, north of Australia, in recent weeks. The protesters are demanding the resignation of the government of Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare over a peculiar reason – his alleged ties to China. The demonstrators claim that the central government has bent to Beijing's will in exchange for taking "Chinese money".
The Solomon Islands did indeed change the course of its foreign policy not so long ago. Back in 2019, it made a U-turn by announcing the diplomatic recognition of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) instead of Taiwan. Unconfirmed reports even suggested that Beijing was planning on building a military base on Tulagi Island, but, in fact, it was only chartered to a private Chinese company, not the military.
The inside of the House of Parliament in Honiara, Solomon Islands - Sputnik International, 1920, 27.11.2021
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However, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare strongly rejected the claims, while alleging that the protests were orchestrated from abroad, purportedly hinting at the US. The latter, though, has been conspicuously absent from the scene – Washington does not even have a diplomatic representation in the island nation.
The White House has under several administrations been systematically accusing China of "bribing" regional powers in Asia. By "bribing", the US means the enormous amounts of money that Beijing has invested in these countries' economies, in large part to support its Belt and Road initiative. Washington insists that China plans to use these investments and credits as leverage one way or another.
And yet, surprisingly, they have not rushed to condemn the government of Manasseh Sogavare and support the protesters once they accused it of striking a covert deal with Beijing. Instead, Washington simply called for a return to peace.
The lack of a US reaction looks even stranger in light of the Solomon Islands' strategic location. While it is far from the only patch of land in the Pacific to deploy forces, its strategic importance is hardly deniable – especially for the American military, which fiercely fought there against Japanese troops during the Second World War.
Instead, the US is seemingly focusing on boosting Australia's defensive capabilities by handing over nuclear submarine propulsion technology under the provisions of the AUKUS security pact and arming Taiwan in defiance of warnings issued by Beijing. Washington also continues to routinely send its warships to the disputed waters of the South China Sea that remain firmly under the control of Beijing's forces. The US takes these steps all the while calling China one of the most likely potential adversaries in the future and announcing plans to limit its influence and deter it militarily.
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