Lazy eyes listen
The US Embassy in the Solomon Islands reopened on Thursday, decades after it was declared obsolete, amid concerns in Washington about the South Pacific archipelago’s overtures to Beijing.
According to the Associated Press, the mission in Honiara will consist of a charge d’affaires, a “couple” of State Department employees, and a “handle” of residents, as part of an effort to “counter China’s push into the Pacific.”
In a pre-recorded statement, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that with his new embassy, Washington will be “better placed” advance democracy and “addressing common challenges.
The Solomon Islands, located about 1,800 kilometers northeast of Australia, last hosted a US diplomatic mission in 1993, when the State Department decided to downsize due to the end of the war. The Cold War. During World War II, the United States played a critical role in liberating the archipelago from Japanese occupation during the bloody Guadalcanal campaign.
Honiara, on the other hand, decided in 2019 to transfer diplomatic relations with China from nationalist exiles in Taiwan to the communist government in Beijing. Riots erupted in Guadalcanal as a result of the decision, with protesters attacking Chinese businesses and torching the prime minister’s residence.
Honiara signed a security agreement with China in 2022, raising concerns in the United States and Australia. Given the situation in China, the State Department informed Congress that reopening the embassy was a top priority. “a growing influence,” as well as concerns about a military buildup in the Solomon Islands.
The United States had told the Solomons that Washington would “significant concerns and react accordingly” at any “permanent military presence, power projection capabilities or military installation” by China.
China trains with its new Pacific security partner.
The Australian government has stated that any type of Chinese naval base in the archipelago would be a “Red line” for Canberra, and some commentators have even called for the islands to be invaded.
In response to these concerns, Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare stated that Australia remains the “security partner of choice” and assured that no Chinese military base would be established, insisting that the security pact with Beijing “had only national applications.”