This month the Solomon Islands signed a security pact with China which would ostensibly allow it to station troops and build a naval base on the islands. The Solomons were the site of some of the fiercest battles of WW2 for precisely the same reason China is interested in it now:
If you control the Solomons, you have an unsinkable aircraft carrier smack bang in the middle of Australia and America, and Australia has its very own Cuban Missile Crisis. The Americans understand this and have swung into action:
From the Financial Times:
The US is accelerating the opening of an embassy in the Solomon Islands as it stepped up efforts to increase influence with the South Pacific nation, whose recently signed security pact with China has sparked concerns in Washington.
The White House said the US would expedite the embassy opening in the capital Honiara where it has not had a permanent diplomatic presence since 1993. It said the US would also send a hospital ship to help the islands with public health issues and provide it with coronavirus vaccines.
The announcement came after Kurt Campbell, the top White House Indo-Pacific official, led a high-level US delegation to meet Manasseh Sogavare, prime minister of the Solomon Islands, which is strategically located off the north-east coast of Australia.
Washington has rushed to shore up its diplomatic efforts after it emerged last month that the islands had agreed the deal with Beijing. Experts fear it could lead to China building a naval base in the South Pacific that would move its forces closer to Hawaii and Australia.
The White House said the US delegation, which included Dan Kritenbrink, the top Asia official at the state department, held “substantial discussion” with Sogavare about the agreement signed with China this week. The US team expressed concern about “the purposes, scope and transparency” of the pact.
“If steps are taken to establish a de facto permanent military presence, power-projection capabilities, or a military installation, the delegation noted that the United States would then have significant concerns and respond accordingly,” said the White House, adding that Sogavare had assured the US team that the deal would not lead to a Chinese military base or long-term military presence.
“Respond accordingly.” That means invasion. Sogavare knows what happens to leaders of third world shitholes who try to leave the American Alliance:
He’s better off taking the bribe:
The US said the two countries had also agreed to launch a high-level “strategic dialogue” to engage on issues ranging from economic and social development to public health, finance and debt.
This appears to be a return to a Realist approach to diplomacy in the South Pacific. Either we do empire building or China will.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison attempted to defend himself from the fact that he allowed this on his watch, by claiming that Australia was responding to criticism that it was a bully in the region. The fruits of this “playing nice” policy is that China has been able to advance to Australia’s doorstep, we’re building a new port in Darwin because we sold the old one to China, and America has been forced to threaten to invade a country which cost it 15,000 casualties 80 years ago for basically the same strategic reason.
Anticipating China’s next move, it could well involve demands for the demilitarisation of Taiwan in exchange for assurances it will not build bases in the South Pacific.