Rising tensions in the Solomon Islands hit a breaking point on Nov. 24 when anti-government protests near parliament in Honiara — the islands’ capital city — broke out into violence.
Dozens of buildings have been burned down, numerous shops have been looted and four people have died amidst the violence, according to Reuters.
Several countries — including Australia, Fiji and Papua New Guinea — have deployed troops to the region to help restore some semblance of peace. On Wednesday, New Zealand announced it would be deploying military and police personnel to the region as well.
Roughly 15 New Zealand personnel were deployed to Honiara on Thursday, with about 50 more military and police officials to join them on the weekend, Reuters reported.
“We are deeply concerned by the recent civil unrest and rioting in Honiara, and following yesterday’s request of the Solomon Islands Government, we have moved quickly to provide urgent assistance to help restore sustained peace and security,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.
When it comes to the reason for all of this violence and destruction, at the root of the issue, there is one party at fault — China.
According to a report from The Economist, protesters in Honiara were from Malaita, the most populous of the Solomon Islands.
Despite this, they have also traditionally been amongst the poorest of the islanders.
Most of the investments and jobs are actually concentrated on a different island — Guadalcanal.
Through the years, Malaitans have had various grievances over government corruption, from which they believe the current levels of economic inequality between the different island populations have originated.
These most recent demonstrations are certainly the result of government corruption. The nation’s prime minister — Manasseh Sogavare — upon coming to power in 2019, ended the country’s long relationship with Taiwan, deciding to align instead to the communist government of China, The Economist reported.
The premier of Malatia, Daniel Suidani, represented his constituency by voicing staunch opposition to the switch in allegiances. Many Malatians are avowed Christians and therefore despise the communist and atheist agenda pushed by China.
Because of this, Suidani has called for a referendum on secession. In return, China’s state-run press and Prime Minister Sogavare have been blaming “foreign powers” for the unrest.
Apparently, they believe that Christian Malatians have no reason to detest their country aligning itself with what is perhaps the world’s premier genocidal regime.
Opposition to Chinese influence has long been at the heart of conflict in Honiara, according to The Economist.
“Although the roots of the violence are local, no foreign power involved in the geopolitical struggle that is playing out across the region is blameless. China has followed Taiwan in filling slush funds for friendly [members of parliament]. The government’s cosy ties with Chinese state enterprises are resented in a country that has long been exploited by foreign timber companies and mining firms,” The Economist reported.
Although certainly misguided when it comes to the level of violence they’re committing, the fears of the rioting Malaitans aren’t unwarranted.
China is a growing threat — not just to the Solomon Islands or the United States, but to the entire world.
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