Tue, 25 Jan 2022

China ties blamed for Solomon Islands unrest

28 Nov 2021, 13:37 GMT+10

Washington [US], November 28 (ANI): As the violent unrest refuses to die down in the Solomon Islands, the leader of island nation Manasseh Sogavare has blamed "foreign powers" for encouraging the unrest in the country that is a key battlefront in the Pacific region.

Papua New Guinea and Australia are sending police officers to the hotly-contested region after violent protests targeted parliament, Chinese businesses and other buildings in the Pacific nation's capital, Honiara. Experts say that the unrest has deep roots and is threatening to topple Sogavare's government.

Solomon Islands Prime Minister said that his government is still in control but has asked Australia and Papua New Guinea for help to provide security. The reasons for the current tensions include the long-standing ethnic tensions, allegations of corruption, and disputes over the government's move to enhance ties with China, American broadcaster Voice of America (VOA) reported.

Back in 2019, the Solomon Islands switched its diplomatic allegiance from Taiwan to China.

Former Australian High Commissioner to the Solomon Islands James Batley said that community tensions over links with China have stoked the unrest.

"It is not foreign policy per se, but I think this diplomatic switch has fed into those pre-existing grievances and in particular the sense that the Chinese have interfered in politics in Solomon Islands, that Chinese money has somehow fostered corruption, has distorted the way politics works in Solomon Islands," Batley was quoted as saying by VOA.

Australian peacekeepers have now restored order to the Solomon Islands after furious anti-China riots saw buildings set ablaze and shops looted, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Protesters have left a trail of destruction over the last three days, venting anger at the government's decision to switch diplomatic relations from Taiwan to China.

China and Taiwan have been rivals in the South Pacific for decades with some island nations switching allegiances. China views Taiwan as a wayward province with no right to state-to-state ties, which the government in Taipei hotly disputes.

Only 15 countries maintain formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan. The last two to ditch Taipei in favour of Beijing were the Solomon Islands and Kiribati in September 2019. (ANI)

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