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A setback for Beijing in Solomon Islands

A map from Wikipedia of the various groupings of island nations in the Pacific, which we included in our brief guide to China and the Pacific island nations last year. Solomon Islands is in the Melanesia subregion. 


After Beijing convinced the government of Solomon Islands to switch ties from Taipei last month, there was immediate speculation that it could be the first of multiple dominoes to fall among Taiwan’s Pacific Island allies.

But Solomon Islands saw an immediate grassroots backlash to the decision, such that the country’s prime minister canceled his visit to New York for the UN General Assembly.

Then the New York Times reported on October 16 that “a Beijing-based company with close ties to the Chinese Communist Party has secured exclusive development rights for the entire island of Tulagi and its surroundings,” sparking further uproar.

The NYT on Thursday reported that the deal has been condemned by the country’s attorney general, though it is unclear if this means it won’t end up happening:

The deal for the island, Tulagi — a headquarters for world powers both before and during World War II — granted exclusive development rights for at least 75 years. It was signed by the head of the provincial government and executives from China Sam, a Beijing-based conglomerate founded as a state-owned enterprise.

The attorney general’s office said in a statement on Thursday that the agreement should be terminated because it lacked vital details, such as timelines, and encroached on the powers of the national government…

The agreement had shocked residents of the island, some of whom feared that China was seeking to establish a military foothold there. Critics of the deal welcomed the attorney general’s decision, but warned that China Sam — and other Chinese interests — may see this more as a temporary setback than a cancellation of their plans.

Lucas Niewenhuis

Lucas Niewenhuis is an associate editor at SupChina who helps curate daily news and produce the company's newsletter, app, and website content. Previously, Lucas researched China-Africa relations at the Social Science Research Council and interned at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. He has studied Chinese language and culture in Shanghai and Beijing, and is a graduate of the University of Michigan.

One Comment

  1. Patrick Whelan Reply

    Early 2010’s China was going around islands in the Pacific and handing out $10k to each politician or village Chief on those islands.

    Personal favorite was Palau. Worried that Uncle Sam might realize people had money who should not have money, thought they were cleaver. They wrote contracts on paper selling a lot or land to someone, but never filed it with the Court.

    Why? Palau is matriarchal. Clan Queens own all the land. Do some digging in Palau Supreme Court Case CA 9-15 I think it was. Entire Palau Council of Chief’s tried to strip a Clan Chief and Queen of power. Lucky for her she married a Navy Chief who built the Guam Airport and got alll his money when he died. Poor Navy Chief didn’t wanna marry her. Wasn’t until his cancer got bad and they were holding his Fentanyl patches from him that he finally gave in.

    That Queen was connected to the former Palau Senate President who’s career ended when the 36th Mission Support Group Commander on Andersen AFB killed himself. He was married, yet was boinkin the Palau Queen’s daughter. His wife got mad when she found out. Some of us think she killed him, but that’s a Story the Air Force, State Department don’t want known so “suicide” it was.

    China’s had alot or wins in the Pacific because of pretty little girls. Those Pacific islands are in no way shape or form our “allies”.

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