Strategic expansion of China via the Solomon Islands
Details of a draft security agreement between the two countries were recently leaked to the public.
The Solomon Islands, located in the South Pacific Ocean, is a constitutional monarchy ruled by the British Monarch. Last year, the small country of six islands in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean was rocked by riots and protests.
The Central Government of the Solomon Islands withdrew its recognition of Taiwan in 2019, but the Province of Malaita's economy was still supported by Taiwan and the United States.
Protests against the Central Government's de-recognition of Taiwan and recognition of China as a single nation began peacefully last November.
However, they quickly escalated into violent riots when members of the 'Malaita for Democracy' group attempted to storm the Parliament and police retaliated with tear gas.
Many houses in Chinatown were destroyed by fire, and police reported finding charred bodies in one of the destroyed structures.
The situation deteriorated to the point where the central government requested external assistance, and Australia, Papua New Guinea, and Fiji sent troops and peacekeeping forces.
The government even requested assistance from China, receiving batons, helmets, and shields for local security forces.
Before establishing diplomatic relations in 2019, Beijing had steadily become the Solomon Islands' largest trading partner.
However, China now has much higher ambitions, with plans to establish military bases on the islands.
Details of a draft security agreement between the two countries were recently leaked to the public, in which Chinese warships could stop in the Solomon Islands for logistics and replenishment while providing personnel to maintain law and order.
The leak sparked panic around the world, particularly in New Zealand, Australia, and the United States, which went on high alert.
Although both China and the Solomon Islands denied the establishment of a military base, the businessman behind this transaction had previously attempted to purchase an entire island for China.
Three years ago, Xu Changyu attempted to broker a deal to lease the island of Tulagi for 75 years, securing exclusive development rights on behalf of the State company China Sam Enterprise, which manufactures weapons.
Residents were shocked and alarmed by the deal, claiming that it is difficult to believe that the Chinese would lease the entire island without turning it into a military base, effectively changing the status and role of the small island.
China has been accused of establishing economic colonies by enticing poor countries with easy loans and massive investments in infrastructure and trade in exchange for breaking ties with Taiwan and recognizing Beijing.
In this particular case, it has been claimed that the infrastructure was being built with the intention of using it for both civilian and military purposes.
China's role in these islands is significant, not only in the infrastructure and construction sectors, but also in key service sectors such as telecommunications and seaport projects, over which it later claims control.
China is constructing and has completed a number of infrastructure projects, including seaports, roads, and railways in Mongolia, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, as part of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which aims to revitalize the Silk Road, with the additional goal of providing telecommunication services and transport logistics, as well as establishing factories along the route.
Following Xi Jinping's election, there has been a clear push to bring Chinese society and the economy under State control.
State-owned enterprises have been directed by Xi Jinping to more strictly align their activities with foreign policy.
Civilian enterprises, academic institutions, and commercial research and development departments have been given permission to conduct classified military R&D, including weapon production.
Aside from that, China is heavily investing in private industries and redirecting operations to the development of military technology.
The Solomon Islands situation is merely the most recent example of the aforementioned policy.