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Solomon Islands

Solomon Island PM’s “insulting” comments as he gushes over China

PM Sogavare and Chinese ambassador Li Ming celebrate 100 years of the CCP. Photo: Govt Communications Unit

The Government of the Solomon Islands has reaffirmed its commitment to the “One China” policy, despite fierce opposition from some within the nation.

The extreme pledge of allegiance to China was made this week by Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare at the opening of a photo exhibition celebrating the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC) at the Chinese Embassy in Honiara.

Mr Sogavare assured Chinese Ambassador Li Ming and staff of the Embassy that his Government remains committed to “uphold the One China policy.

This despite the fact that for 36 years until 2019 the Government enjoyed close diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

In September 2019 the nation terminated its relationship with Taiwan and commenced diplomatic ties with China, amid claims of bribes offered by both nations – and denied by Taiwan – to Solomon Island politicians.

At the time Peter Kenilorea Jr, son of the country’s first prime minister told the Guardian that the decision was all about the money.

Mr Kenilorea said he had heard reports of MPs being offered between SBD$2m-$5m ($246,000-$615,000) to vote in favour of Beijing.

This week PM Sogavare was gushing. “Let me assure you all that Solomon Islands, and Our Party, upholds the One China policy and principle, and Taiwan is an alienable party of the Peoples Republic of China”.

“No amount of pressure or influence, whether locally or foreign, will deter or sway us away from this noble principle and bold stand.” he said.

Mr Sogavare conveyed his appreciation to the Communist Party of China (CPC) for the opportunity to attend and witness the opening ceremony of the photo exhibition celebrating the 100th anniversary of the founding of CPC.

“On behalf of….. the people of Solomon Islands, our warm congratulations on the 100 years’ anniversary of the CPC,” he said.

He also lauded the achievements of the Communist Party, which will surely go against the grain in Australia, which is engaged in a long-running dispute with the global powerhouse.

Australia provided A$161 million in aid to the Solomon Islands last financial year, and continue to pledge similar amounts each year.

“Our Party and its coalition partner, Solomon Islands People First Party….recognize the successful and towering achievements by CPC over the 100 years,” he continued.

“This is truly a testament of CPC able leadership and visionary governance over the past years. As such, we are very eager to work with the CPC to deepen our party-to-party relationship,” Mr Sogavare said.

There was no mention of how his concept of “able leadership and visionary governance” could be reconciled with the recent actions of China that includes cracking down of democracy in Hong Kong, intimidating Taiwan with its military, embarking on a trade war with Australia and other nations, alleged human rights violations against minorities and expanding its military presence in the South China Sea.

In further comments that some government officials have labelled as “insulting” to Australia and other allies who have regularly supported Solomon Islands, Mr Sogavare said his country was keen to cooperate with the Peoples Republic of China “to build a world that is fair and just, a world that is based on multilateralism as opposed to unilateralism, a world that promotes free trade, and a community with shared future for humankind.”

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