- Date published:
8:24 pm, March 29th, 2022 - 33 comments
Categories: australian politics, China, colonialism, defence, Diplomacy, FiveEyes, International, jacinda ardern, Pacific, Peace - Tags:
Jacinda Ardern is “gravely concerned.” Peeni Henare was ‘”caught off-guard.”. Barnaby Joyce feels “intimidated.” Solomon Islands PM Sogavare found it “insulting to be branded as unfit to manage our sovereign affairs.” I think he is right.
Where are all those fine words about democracy we love to preach to others? This is the 21st century, not the 19th, and the independent Solomon Islands government is entitled to make its own arrangements as it sees fit. This doesn’t sound to me like the “new net” going fishing in the Pacific, rather the old net bottom-dredging. Neo-colonialism under the security blanket.
The draft agreement between the Solomon Island and China apparently states:
“China may, according to its own need and with the consent of Solomon Islands, make ship visits, carry out logistical replenishment in, and have stopover and transition in Solomon Islands, and the relevant forces of China can be used to protect the safety of Chinese personnel and major projects in Solomon Islands.”
I can see why both the Solomons and China may have an interest in protecting the safety of Chinese personnel and projects. Riots in Honiara last year targeted the Chinese community, and China does take an interest in and look after the safety and concerns of its diaspora. I’m not at all surprised that the Solomons government would appreciate the help of Chinese police and defence personnel is assisting them to keep order. I am sure the Chinese community there will also appreciate it.
Predictably, Taiwan lobbyist Anne-Marie Brady was all over the Australian media ramping this up as “poking the panda.“. In her view, everything China does to protect the interests of its diaspora is malign. But ship visits do not a naval base make – we know this as the destroyer USS Howard crept into Wellington harbour late last year. The politicians, the pundits and the lobbyists on both sides of the Tasman have gone way overboard on this issue. It does them no credit.
Personally, I’m far more concerned about the Australian government’s proposals to build bases for their nuclear submarines on the east coast of Australia. That will do far more to destabilise the Pacific than a few ship visits to Honiara, or some China-friendly police training. Also, the prevailing winds are westerly.