Date: June 15, 2019
By: Joel Gehrke
China and Taiwan are vying for influence over the Solomon Islands, in a diplomatic contest that could foreshadow conflict in the same place U.S. Marines fought a major battle during World War II.
The government of the Pacific Islands nation is in the early phase of a 100-day period to review diplomatic relations with Taiwan, the last holdout of the government overthrown when Chinese Communists came to power in 1949. The Beijing regime claims sovereignty over the self-governing island and has been lobbying world leaders not to recognize the independence of the government in Taipei. But a decision by the Solomon Islands in favor of China wouldn’t only be a victory for Chinese President Xi Jinping’s efforts to isolate Taiwan — it could also help China establish a useful outpost in advance of any clash with U.S. partners or allies in the Indo-Pacific.
“I think it shows what their true intent is,” said Florida Rep. Ted Yoho, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee for Asia and the Pacific. "I think they’re building up for a conflict.”
Yoho's fears are warranted, according to Mike Green, a top regional expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The Solomon Islands' location gives them strategic significance in the region, making their friendship valuable to China for the same reasons Allied forces fought the six-month Battle of Guadalcanal to take the islands from imperial Japan in 1942 and 1943. [FULL STORY]