Daily Review: The U.S.-China Rivalry in the Solomon Islands

Daily Review: The U.S.-China Rivalry in the Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands then-Minister of Foreign Affairs Jeremiah Manele and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi after signing a joint communique on the establishment of diplomatic relations in Beijing on Sept. 21, 2019 (Kyodo via AP Images).

Lawmakers in the Solomon Islands elected former Foreign Minister Jeremiah Manele as the country’s new PM following general elections last month. Former PM Manasseh Sogavare withdrew from the contest and supported Manele’s bid after their party failed to secure a majority in the elections. (The Guardian)

Our Take

Much like the rest of the Pacific Island nations, politics in the Solomon Islands is increasingly seen by outside observers through the lens of the U.S.-China rivalry. The region has become a major battleground for the two powers due its strategic location. As a result, Beijing and Washington—alongside several regional powers—have ramped up their diplomatic engagement, economic partnerships and, most importantly, security agreements with several Pacific Island nations.

Now, Manele’s election as PM all but assures that the Solomon Islands will continue the Beijing-friendly policies that the country has adopted in recent years, beginning with the switch of diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in 2019. Under the leadership of Sogavare—with Manele as his foreign minister—the country also expanded economic partnerships with Beijing and hosted the Pacific Games, with China paying half the cost.

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