China’s communist regime has been expanding its military presence globally at strategic choke points, including the South China Sea, the entrance to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, and the mouth of the Persian Gulf.
Now, Beijing has its eyes on the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific, at the eastern edge of its planned sphere of influence, reports Lawrence Sellin, a retired U.S. Army reserve colonel who served in Afghanistan, in a column for the Gateway Pundit.
Recalling the famous World War II battle, Sellin noted that in 1942, Imperial Japan began building an airbase on Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands to secure its operations in the Coral Sea and threaten the sea lanes between the United States and Australia.
In April, the Solomon Islands signed a security pact with Beijing allowing a Chinese military and naval presence there after breaking its longstanding tied with Taiwan.
As with many nations, Sellin pointed out, the Solomon Islands has fallen into a debt trap, forcing acceptance of Chinese control over its economy and security arrangements.
Already, China plans, through its tech company Huawei, to build more than 150 telecommunications that could facilitate surveillance operations. And on Tuesday, the Solomon Islands government announced a ban on all foreign military ships. The move came months after the Pacific nation signed a defense pact with China.
‘Pointing their accusing fingers toward China
The Chinese Communist Party-run newspaper the Global Times on Thursday mocked reports in Western media that Beijing is threatening to take over the Solomon Islands.
“It is an open secret that the U.S. and some of its closest allies are pointing their accusing fingers toward China at every turn,” the paper said. “China’s recent cooperation with the Solomon Islands is one such hotspot issue they concern themselves with. These countries are sensitive to almost every move by this Pacific Island country.”
The Chinese daily cited a Fox News report that said the denial of entry to a Solomon Islands port of the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Oliver Henry “raised concerns about China’s growing influence in the area.”
The Fox News report quoted a tweet by China expert Gordon Chang saying China “is running the Solomon Islands.”
The communist paper turned the tables, charging U.S. “intervention in the Solomon Islands’ domestic and foreign affairs has undermined the Pacific Island country’s national dignity, sparking dissatisfaction among both its people and the government.”
The Global Times quoted a Chinese scholar who said the absence of Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare at a weekend dawn service organized by the U.S. to commemorate the Battle of Guadalcanal was meant to send a political message.
The scholar, Chen Hong, said the Solomon Islands’ denial of the American Coast Guard cutter conveys a similar message.
The paper said the U.S. “is not the only country that ramps up attempts to try and smear China-Solomon Islands cooperation, Australia is another one.”
“As a response, the Solomon Islands government reportedly threatened to ban foreign journalists from entering the country if they are not ‘respectful’ or if they engage in ‘racial profiling’ in stories about the Solomon Islands’ relations with China,” the Chinese Communist Party newspaper said.
The Solomon Islands is setting an example, the paper concluded, and more countries likely will “say no to the unreasonable demands and hegemonic practices from the U.S. and its allies.”