https://www.globaltimes.cn-By Global Times
Illustration: Liu Rui/GT
The Pacific island country of the Solomon Islands is overwhelmed by the sudden “enthusiasm” of the US and Australia. The Australian Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Zed Seselja, made a “rare” visit to the Solomon Islands on Tuesday. Seselja’s visit followed the trip of two of Australia’s top intelligence chiefs to the Pacific island country. Meanwhile, the commander of the US Marine Corps and US senators visiting Australia also took turns to warn the Solomon Islands. Kurt Campbell, the US National Security Council Coordinator for the Indo-Pacific, will travel to the Solomon Islands, according to media reports.
The real intentions of the US and Australia on the Solomon Islands are well known – to disrupt the draft security cooperation agreement reached between China and the Solomon Islands last month. The riots, which broke out in Honiara, capital of the Solomon Islands in November last year have resulted in severe economic losses. The country has become more aware of the need to strengthen its own policing capacity and actively promote the diversification of foreign security cooperation. As a result, the Solomon Islands decided to expand and deepen its security partnership with many countries and China is one of them.
The security agreement between China and the Solomon Islands is a law enforcement and security cooperation between two sovereign and independent countries on the basis of equality, mutual respect and mutual benefit. The pact is in line with international law and international practice. It does not target any third party, nor does it have any military purpose. In this regard, no one has the right to interfere. The US and Australia conspire to urge the Solomon Islands to “consider not signing the agreement” is a gross interference in the Solomon Islands’ internal affairs and a huge insult to the integrity of the Pacific island country. The Chairman of the US Foreign Relations Committee and Democratic Senator, Bob Menendez, called on the people’s right to choose but he just did not allow the Solomon Islands to choose freely. In their eyes, the Solomon Islands are only free to choose to be a vassal of the US and Australia or be isolated from the world.
Menendez even warned the Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands, Manasseh Sogavare, that China could become “owner and minder” of the Pacific nation if it pushes forward the security cooperation agreement with Beijing. To be more precise, the US is the “owner,” Australia is the “minder,” and the Pacific island countries are the “backyard” that the “owner” authorizes the “minder” to manage. Washington, who claims to be the “owner,” has forgotten this Pacific island country, with an area of 28,400 square kilometers and a population of 600,000, for a long time. When the Solomon Islands faced an existential crisis because of climate change and when it was in turmoil due to intense ethnic conflict, both Washington and Canberra turned a blind eye. The US embassy in the Solomon Islands has been closed for 29 years.
But after the Solomon Islands established diplomatic ties with China and its relationship with Beijing has become increasingly close, especially after the signing of the draft security cooperation agreement, Canberra and Washington suddenly discovered the “strategic significance” of the country and they rushed to send officials to the country. This shows that Canberra and Washington do not care about the survival and security of the Solomon Islands. What they really care about is the geopolitical value of the country which became prominent after they regard China as a “strategic competitor.”
Under the competition or games with China, the US only sees confrontation and so-called spheres of influence. The US hypes the “China threat theory” by speculating issues as “military bases” to find reasons and excuses for the US to seek hegemony and squeezes or even does not allow China’s engagement with the South Pacific. This is the essence of the US “Indo-Pacific strategy.” As Washington’s “minder,” Canberra this time grossly interferes in the security cooperation agreement between China and the Solomon Islands and said it will fund the country over AU$160 million this financial year. Canberra has precisely followed Washington’s “carrot and stick” tactic and has learned its arrogance and snobbery.
The US and Australia have never understood why they cannot quell the willingness of these countries to develop cooperation with China after they have used so much pressure. The fundamental reason is that China’s cooperation with these countries is genuinely based on mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit and is aimed at the well-being of the people of the countries without any political conditions attached. For the US and Australia, who have never looked at these countries from an equal footing, they will never want to understand this reality, but the historical trend will teach them.