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Unrest in Solomon Islands after leaders switch allegiance to China

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Unrest in Solomon Islands after leaders switch allegiance to China
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Image Credit: CNN

The Solomon Islands in the Pacific have witnessed scenes of intense unrest with protests rocking the capital city of Honiaras. Australian government sources have revealed that looting and burning was still going on the Chinatown region of the South-Pacific island's capital and that Asutralian federal police had been dispatched for assistance.

Protestors come from the most populous province of Malaita and are going head-to-head with the government of the islands which had decided to end a 2019 agreement of allegiance with Taiwan in order to switch to ties with China. A host of other issues also dominated the two day protests, including unrealised infrastructure promises. A 36-hour lockdown was imposed in the last two days which failed to deter protestors and tear gas was fired on them this morning. 36 have been arrested.

Violence broke out on Wednesday evening as parliament resumed over the Prime Minister's lack of response to a citizen petition filed in August, which included demands for the government to respect the rights of self-determination of the Malaita people, to limit ties with China and to resume development projects in Malaita.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, who requested help from Australia, on Friday blamed foreign countries for stoking the violent protests, but did not name any. He alleged that the protestors were being 'mislead' by outside forces who did not wish to see the Solomon Islands develop diplomatic ties with the Republic of China. A statement on the Solomon Islands government website said public servants with the exception of essential workers should stay at home "due to the current unrest in Honiara City".

"I feel sorry for my people in Malaita because they are fed with false and deliberate lies about the switch," Sogavare told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"These very countries that are now influencing Malaita are the countries that don't want ties with the People's Republic of China, and they are discouraging Solomon Islands to enter into diplomatic relations and to comply with international law and the United Nations resolution."

The switching of the Solomon Islands and fellow island nation Kiribati to Chinese relations in 2019 was seen as yet another move on the diplomatic chessboard between China and Taiwan, the latter of which China does not see as an independent country and which it has vowed to assimilate by force if needed. China's increasing influence in the Indo-Pacific region is widely seen as the push behind the new AUKUS defense past between Australia, the UK and the USA, which pledges nuclear submarine assistance and information between the countries and will help the US expand its influence in the area under the guise of supporting its ally Australia.

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TAGS:Australia China Protests Taiwan Diplomacy 
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