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Editor’s Comments: I try to write stories that have a shelf life beyond a few days.  This one about Solomon Islands qualifies.

The national elections have finished and the provincial elections are in their final stages.

People voted for change.

China’s man, former Prime Minister Sogavare, didn’t run for his old post – although he retained his seat in parliament and can still be in the new cabinet.  Chinese money is now ensuring the Sogavare successor government – with a Sogavare protégé as Prime Minister– continues in power.  And huge amounts of money are now being directed to the provinces to ‘buy’ China-friendly parliamentarians to take over.

The Australians and the Americans stand by transfixed – while corruption and subversion goes on.

There is no downside to taking Chinese money.

I wrote a couple years ago that this is the lynch-pin of Chinese influence efforts in the Solomons (and elsewhere) – and if it is not addressed, honest and democratic forces will be smothered.

The Australians and the Americans – even the French (a French bank gave Sogavare inexplicable mortgages to grow his property empire) – could have done something.  They didn’t.

Anyone who had position (and presumably responsibility) for ensuring this didn’t happen ought to be ashamed of themselves.  Save the excuses and passing of blame.

Original Story: The Americans went to the Solomon Islands almost two weeks ago. It was a high-power delegation that included Biden’s National Security Council Indo-Pacific “Asia Czar” Kurt Campbell, the State Department’s Asia-Pacific head Daniel Kritenbrink, and senior officials from USAID and USINDOPACOM.

But there was an air of desperation to it all—given that the Solomon Islands government had just signed an agreement with China that potentially allows unfettered Chinese military access to the Solomons. This is the first such “military” deal Beijing has signed with a Pacific nation.

The U.S. team met with Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare and expressed concerns about the deal with the Chinese. That ship has sailed, however.

Sogavare will gladly take whatever “goodies” the Americans have to offer. But he won’t be persuaded or “paid” to revoke the Chinese deal. And a handsome aid and development package won’t change his mind. Indeed, it might even bolster his standing in certain quarters—as the guy who got the Americans to pay attention to the Solomon Islands—and to pay up.

Sogavare has cast his lot with Beijing and might be counting on the Chinese to keep him in power since he and the Solomons–China deal are widely unpopular with large parts of the public, including the important western and Malaita provinces.

Sogavare would probably lose the next election—scheduled for 2023—and so it’s feared he will try to postpone it.

So What’s Coming?

There’s a real risk of the Solomon Islands becoming a one-party state run by a corrupt regime that keeps power by violence and a Chinese presence. And this will mean civil war once again in the Solomons—with all attendant misery for the citizenry.

There’s only a short window to avoid this.

The American visitors told Sogavare that the United States will have “significant concerns and would respond accordingly” if China sets up a permanent military presence, power-projection capabilities, or a military installation.

Sogavare might be forgiven for thinking that Washington’s “respond accordingly” means a furrow-browed expression of “serious concern.”

And Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who has staked his prestige on the Solomons deal, might think so.

Read more.

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