Solomons and battle between superpowers
Published: Jan 04, 2022 04:09 PM
Photo: CFP

Photo: CFP

This essay discusses the issues that have stirred up hostility between the superpowers. It begins with an outline emphasizing the sensitivity pertaining to the presence of China in Solomon Islands, whilst arguing that the interests of Western powers in undermining that presence is discernible in their eagerness to 'develop' Malaita Province. 

The strands of the core issues are connected through broad themes. The thesis of the article is that it is the Western nations that are scurrying to start a war with the PRC rather than the other way round. 

A battle in this geopolitical war has recently raised its ugly head in the Solomon Islands. The essay concludes with the assertion that the Solomons has become a hotspot in the war between the United States and its Allies versus China and its partner, Russia.


There is widespread China phobia in parts of Solomon Islands. This has resulted in continuous anti-China rhetoric coming from some leaders and self-styled keyboard warriors. 

vidently, not a week goes by in which every positive move made by the Peoples' Republic of China (PRC) - to nurture its new relationship with the Solomons - has not been smeared with insinuations about how wrongheaded it is for the country to befriend China. 

The PRC is often blamed for the troubles that exist between the provincial and national Governments, and condemned for the competitive behaviors of its private citizens in business, ascribing such behaviors to the PRC's intention to dominate the country. The switch of diplomatic relation from Taiwan to China in September 2019 is, therefore, regarded by the supporters of the former as bringing bad karma to the nation. 

On the most part, those that have a vague understanding of the real issues pertaining to the PRC-Taiwan saga, and the roles played by Western powers in the hostility between them - tend to equate the switch to the introduction of communism and atheism which, in their way of thinking, would imperil the Christian foundation of Solomon Islands society, while at the same time undermine democracy and individual freedom.

Behind such mistaken beliefs and negativity is the influence of the Taiwanese Government working through its agents in the country to undermine China or to destabilize the ruling Democratic Coalition Government for Advancement (DCGA). 

A host of other like-minded countries, the main aim of which is to place every possible road-block in the path of the PRC's development interests, economic progress and  influence - also have a skin in stoking the animosity between the PRC and Taiwan. 

Typically, such countries would apply serious political pressures, economic sanctions or negative press coverage in their efforts to dissuade nations that dare to look up to China for development support, trade and investment. 

They hate to allow the world, through official pronouncements or the Western media, to know about the real China.

In the fallout between the Malaita Alliance for Rural Advancement (MARA) Government and the DCGA over the switch, Taiwan and its partners have seized the opportunity to strengthen their influence in that part of the country, ostensibly to meet the genuine development interests of the MARA leadership. 

Malaita's desire is, of course, to fast track its infrastructure and socio-economic developments, which it believes the DCGA has not been serious at all in pursuing.  


However, since the switch, the DCGA has been unable to fully pursue its plans to develop the province, because it is being impeded by the MARA Government's own strategy for modernizing Malaita. 

While the DCGA has been offering Malaita development projects, some of which China was prepared to undertake; the MARA Government would not have any of it, preferring instead to welcome projects from Taiwan or its Western partners. 

As a result, the MARA leadership, and increasingly many of its supporters, has regarded the switch as having no potential benefits for its people. 

While the DCGA is taken aback by MARA's uncompromising stand on its preferred development providers, some Western countries (including Japan) have been quick to come to the aid of Malaita. 

In the wake of the switch, Japan, the US and Australia immediately sent representatives to potential development sites in Malaita, such as Bina Harbour, and announced that they would be more than capable of building a new international seaport at the site, or in delivering other large projects for the province; and that they could do so either directly through the DCGA, or indirectly through NGOs or not-for-profit organizations, such as Winrock - as surrogates of USAID. 

To some Western powers, it matters not whether the legal requirements of tiny island nations are complied with or not. So even when appropriate government-to-government agreements had yet to be concluded, the US and its Allies had gone ahead and given encouraging signals to the province that they would be reliable partners in times of need. 

Following through with that assurance, the US quickly promised to give Malaita, directly, USD25 million for its development projects. Of course Taiwan as a former development partner of Solomon Islands has been providing assistance to its political supporters since its replacement by the PRC. 

Yet, the sudden interest of big powers in the province has attracted serious concerns among senior citizens of Malaita. A prominent leader and former judge and Governor General, Sir Frank Kabui, has stated in a recent interview that, "I don't know why the Americans suddenly are interested in Solomon Islands and want to start off in Malaita Province… This sudden love for Malaita is suspicious…", when all the US had done was to send Peace Corps or engage in a proxy relationship with the country for over seven decades. ('Winrock Interview', Solomon Star, 4th November, 2021).

Meanwhile, the seven other Provinces in the country have not been pushing back publicly against the switch or the presence of China. 

However, Western Province in particular, has actually welcomed the new PRC-SI relationship openly, while the others seem to have adopted a wait-and-see attitude. Naturally, they would probably want to see the kinds of projects that China could carry out before availing their full support. 

For them, however, it won't be long before they will see modern sports facilities, built by China, for the 2023 South Pacific Games. They would also notice tangible assistance the PRC is providing to the National University of Solomon Islands (SINU). The project that has been signed would cost "approximately $172.4 million SBD…" with which China would build, "three new 4-floor dormitories, one activity hall and an equipment house on SINU Kukum Campus. When finished there will be altogether 216 dormitory rooms, which will accommodate more than 900 students". 

And "since all necessary furniture and sanitary facilities will be provided by the Chinese side, so the students should be able to move into their rooms directly". (Island Sun, 15th November 2021). 

One would assume this demonstration of soft power would engender a more positive view of China among the other provinces.

Whilst the US and its Allies would be pleased with Malaita's stand against the PRC, they might also, at the same time, be quite annoyed with the DCGA for daring to make the switch: Taiwan's presence in the country had provided strategic advantage to the maintenance of Pacific-wide security, and the protection of liberal democracy in the Solomons. 

And Taiwan had, evidently, been a reliable partner in the promotion of Western hegemony in the South Pacific. The switch has, therefore, diminished the overall influence of the West in the region, especially amongst countries in the Melanesian chain of islands.

But a change of strategy is now in place. The not-so-subtle interference of the Western powers in the affairs of Solomon Islands has begun in Malaita. 

Because of it, leaders of the country would do well to have a strategy that can navigate the interests of Solomon Islands between those of China, as a rising super power, and those of the collective West, led by the United States.  

Solomon Islands' national interests should be carefully guarded. Given the country's socio-economic fragility, political instability, its troubled past and its tendency to quickly slide into mindless acts - it may not be advantageous for it to be involved in the ideological and geopolitical battle, which is being fought between the US and China. 

Solomon Islands' political culture and development goals are too vulnerable and volatile to be tampered with by outside forces. 

Moreover, the country should avoid becoming a battle ground for military confrontation. Yet, there are signs that such an eventuality is conceivable, and could potentially cause collateral damages to the country and its people. 


Western powers are building up their formidable naval presence in the sea areas adjacent to China. They have been carrying out provocative moves against the country by holding navel drills; conducting submarine reconnaissance; raising the rhetoric about human rights violations; castigating China for the suppression of democracy in Hong Kong, and by drumming up PRC's military activities as preparations for the invasion of Taiwan. 

China has been criticized for engaging in trade coercion and malpractices in its dealings with other countries, and its popular Belt and Road Initiative has been ridiculed for producing 'debt trap' in partner countries. 

The Western nations contend that China's economic prowess is simply a product of, in the words of President Biden, "abusive behavior", and not necessarily something that one could speak highly of. 

They talk of China's geo-economic rise as undermining or suppressing the growth and wellbeing of other nations, and claim that the PRC has not adhered to the "rules-based international order", the acceptance of which, according to the Western powers, would put China on the straight and rightful path. Consequently, China has been seen as a rule-breaker and dangerous to the peace and security provided under the 'order'. 

The US and its Allies, moreover, have argued that China presents a big threat to democratic countries in the Indo-Pacific region in that she is not respecting values embodied in the liberal democratic ethos. 

And, its authoritarian Government, propped up by the Communist Party of China (CPC), is not a good model for any society. In addition, they claim that the PRC poses existential danger to the trade routes in the East-and South China - Seas, by highlighting, without real evidence that China is interfering with the freedom of navigation in the area.

But some of the bizarre claims made against China are: that it is an 'adversary', a 'threat to world peace' and, more recently, a 'nuclear threat', despite the fact that the US and Russia hold more nuclear warheads than China does, and that the US spends nearly $800b on its military as compared with China's almost $300b. 

Bolstered by the existence of the United States' military bases in South Korea, Okinawa, mainland Japan, the Philippines, Guam, Marshall Islands and Australia, besides others - which are literally at the doorstep of China - the collective West is embolden to attack the PRC militarily. By reducing its forces in the Middle East and Central Asia, the US is now turning its full attention to the Pivot to Asia policy, which has been losing momentum in recent years, whilst China's influence in its own region has been growing significantly. 

To make the Pivot to Asia substantive and meaningful, however, the US under President Biden, has enlisted the co-operation and services of some NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) member countries and some Indo-Pacific nations that have formed themselves into the QUAD (Australia, India, Japan and the US), and more recently, AUKUS (Australia, UK and US), not to mention the Five Eyes - to confront China. 

The specific aim of these groups is to apply maximum pressures through sabre-rattling, diplomacy or other means, such as the funding of civil society organizations like the 'National Endowment for Democracy', and institutions like the 'Australian Strategic Policy Institute' (ASPI) - to force China to comply with the rules-based order, or failing that, to sabotage the close relationships that countries and organizations in the Indo-Pacific region have forged with the PRC. What are we to say about all this, and how do they support the battle? 


Ensconced in its region and anchoring its relationship with most Asian countries in the vicinity, China has been refuting the vitriol leveled against her, but it seems not effectively, given the power of anti-China propaganda orchestrated by the West. However, her counter arguments are clear.  

From forced labor to ethnocide, anti-China scholar Adrian Zenz made up so many lies about Xinjiang. They are debunked by a think-tank report released on Friday. Check out the infographic to learn more. Graphic:Chen Xia/GT

From "forced labor" to "ethnocide," anti-China "scholar" Adrian Zenz made up so many lies about Xinjiang. They are debunked by a think-tank report released on Friday. Check out the infographic to learn more. Graphic:Chen Xia/GT

Human Rights Violation in Xinjiang

China asserts that she has been vindicated: there is no human rights violation in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. She claims she has allowed trustworthy groups to visit the region and they have not seen any evidence of the existence of 'genocide', 'concentration camps', 'sterilization programs' or 'forced labour' in the area. Diplomats from many countries, key Islamic organizations (the Uyghur are predominantly Muslims) and independent media entities - that have taken the trouble to verify the nasty stories circulating about Xinjiang - are said to have returned with nothing but praise for the positive changes China has been delivering to the people in the region. 

China asserts there's been no Uyghur 'forced' to work in the cotton fields of Xinjiang; work on the fields is mostly carried out by machines: there's been no genocide meted out; the population of the region has actually risen by several millions, recording positive growth annually to reach nearly 26 million souls today: there's been no concentration camps; the satellite photos taken and circulated by the ASPI purportedly showing the 'camps', have been widely discredited as doctored images. 

And Adrian Zenz's 'expert' reports on human rights violation in Xinjiang, completely relied upon by the Western accusers, have been exposed by the award-winning investigative journalist, Max Blumenthal, editor of the Grayzone website - as poorly researched or mostly fabricated.  

Moreover, China has been wondering aloud whether the Western powers, which have been so vocal about human rights violations, have ever looked in the mirror to see what they have done to the native populations in the places they now occupy, as well as to the millions of Muslims they have obliterated in the Syrian, Libyan, Iraqi and Afghanistan wars. As a matter of fact, China has written a number of reports on human rights violations perpetrated by the United States and its Allies, including 'The Report on Human Rights Violations in the United States in 2020'. China has published its findings.

Hong Kong

Martin Jacques, the author of 'When China Rules the World', has pointed out that during the period of 155 years (1842-1997), before the territory was handed back to China by Great Britain, Hong Kong practised no democracy. 

He argues it had always been governed from London through foreign and local conglomerates and tycoons: Hong Kong was run entirely as a crown colony. Plans for it to become an independent nation, severed from the mainland, were hardly in the calculations. 

Thus, individual freedom and the human rights of the residents had always been subjected to plutocratic rule. Only since 1997, he contends, have talks about democracy been repeated ad nausea as if it has always been in the DNA of the Hong Kong people.

Even so, China does permit local and participatory democracy to exist in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) through the provisions in the 'Basic Law' - a mini constitution designed to operate in a 'one country two systems' polity. 

Initially, Hong Kong was regarded by the PRC as a crucial gateway to the world outside, especially when mainland China was going through the process of opening up and modernization, driven by Deng Xiaoping's reform program which was picking up speed in the 1980s. 

China must have known that it was handling a sharp two-edged sword: whilst Hong Kong was great for its economic, socio-political transformation and opening up, on the other hand, the powerful and well entrenched business class, particularly the foreign magnates, would aggressively resist the newly designed political system for Hong Kong, and Chinese rule. 

Sure enough, the clash between the 'Movement for Democracy' protesters and Government authorities had resulted in the tumultuous events that wreaked havoc in the HKSAR in 2019. Law and order broke down. Foreign NGOs as well as trained saboteurs were allegedly involved in supporting the rioters. When the PRC formulated and applied the national security law in the autonomous region, in the wake of the crisis, the Western powers cried foul. 

They chided China for introducing a legislation that would actually bring back stability, law and order and the rule of law in the Administrative Region! Nonetheless, the Western business moguls, through their vocal political leaders outside, still treat the HKSAR as if it is their own. They continue to smear China over it, not necessarily because the PRC is undermining democracy or holding back individual freedom, but, to a large extent, for subjecting their business empires under CPC rule. 

The South China Sea (SCS) and Freedom of Navigation 

Before the passage of the 'United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea' (UNCLOS) in 1982, China claims that the sea area within the nine dash lines, which she believes comprise the maritime extension of its terrestrial boundaries - have been hers historically. She maintains that maps produced in the 1950s had the dash lines intact and the sea within them still designated as belonging to China. 

She stresses that neither neighboring countries nor Western powers had ever disputed the status quo. However, since 1994 when the Convention went into force, the requirements of the UNCLOS have given countries such as Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei - nations whose Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) cut across the dash lines in different places - legitimacy and opportunity to protect their EEZs. Ultimately, however, only the Philippines aided and abetted by the United States, took her dispute with China to the 'International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea'. The ruling came out in 2016 and it was in favour of the Philippines. 

Even so, the other claimants in the region have instead been open to negotiations with China to co-operatively govern as well as exploit the abundant oil, gas and marine resources in the South China Sea. To this end, the 'Declaration on the Conduct of the Parties in the South China Sea', signed by China and members of ASEAN in 2002, has reaffirmed "freedom of navigation, over flights, peaceful settlement of disputes, and self-restraint in the conduct of activities" in the area, as matters that would still require regular discussions.(map.nbr.org). 

The Agreement is still significant for the purposes of reconciling differences and promoting understanding among members on matters of mutual interests. Moreover, just recently (November 2021), a more substantive Agreement was signed between ASEAN and China. 

The 'Comprehensive Strategic Partnership for Peace, Security, Prosperity and Sustainable Development' emphasizes partnership, peace and security as the basis for developing the region for their own growth and prosperity. 

But the fact that China has constructed bases on built-up islands in the SCS has complicated matters. This has given rise to questions regarding China's intentions and sincerity vis a vis the earlier Agreement. Even so, whilst issues were being delicately handled by the nations concerned, the US and its Allies entered and exacerbated the situation by building up their naval presence in the area. They insist that the Tribunal's decision should be enforced at all cost, and that it should apply to all parties concerned. 

Their penchant for controversy seems to have blinded them, so instead of looking at their own actions, they have laid the blame on China for militarizing and or threatening the freedom of navigation in the SCS. 

In its restrained response, China has made it clear that by regularly sending military flotillas into the area and having frequent naval drills in the nearby seas, with spy nuclear-armed submarines traversing the underwater environment - the Allies are actually posing the biggest threat to the region. 

China insists that the US and Allies' meddling in their region's affairs is, in fact, threatening the freedom of navigation and peace in the entire area, let alone the world. 

China has revealed, for example, that the Seawolf class nuclear submarine, USS Connecticut, was only a few kilometers away and 150 metres down near China's coastline when, in early October, it struck something; some say an "uncharted undersea mountain". In any case, the very sophisticated submarine was badly damaged and had to limp back to Guam for attention. 

On the other hand, China has recently claimed that its undersea anti-submarine drone had knocked off a sizable portion of the submarine's bow, thus paralyzing it that it had to surface. China has been demanding a full report on the incident for the sake of transparency, but especially on whether or not any nuclear effluents might have been leaked. (Foreign Affairs Spokesperson, Zhao Lijian, CCTV).

The PRC has pointed out that if there is any nation on earth that should be more concerned about what happens in the South China Sea, it would have to be China, it being the largest trading nation in the world. 

Wikipedia has written that up to August 2021, "a whooping 5.3 trillion USD trade is passing through the South China Sea every year. More than 60 percent of global maritime trade and more than 22 per cent of total global trade passes through this waterbody. One third of global shipping passes through this sea every year". 

It is not difficult to see that if the US and its Allies decide to take full control of the SCS and the trade routes leading in and out of China, or for them to cause mayhem in the area - China's trade volumes with the rest of the world would drop drastically. All nations, including Solomon Islands, would suffer from disrupted supply chains. This point of view, however, is not often raised when the topic of China building bases on raised-up islands in the SCS is discussed. Yet, it goes without saying that it is in China's own best interest that the sea lanes in the area are protected from potential adversaries who might wish to disrupt the huge amount of trade that flows in and out through the South China Sea. 


The world is watching Taiwan's sea areas and air space with apprehension. Western powers have pledged to back the island in the event of a war breaking out between the PRC and its 'renegade Province'. President Biden has openly vowed to defend the island along with the AUKUS, QUAD and NATO nations in a possible hybrid war with China. 

Some American Marines have already been deployed on the island to train Taiwanese troops and prepare the ground work for an anticipated invasion from the mainland. The US and its Allies' battleships and spy planes are frequenting the 100-mile-wide Taiwan Strait, but they justify their presence there by pointing to the amount of sophisticated military aircrafts China regularly flies menacingly over the island. 

The anti-China news media, such as Sky News Australia, 60 Minutes Australia, India's Wion and Gravitas or the BBC or Fox News, to name but a few, have also been busy spinning the 'drums of war' rhetoric. 

However, it seems that all the apprehension and obsession about a war breaking out soon, especially over Taiwan, is simply one big, hyped up paranoia peddled by Western powers obsessed with imperialistic grandeur and war. 

In reality, Taiwan has been a part of China even before the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912). Japan took it away temporarily, following the first Sino-Japanese war of 1894-1895, until she was defeated in WW2, surrendered in August 1945, and lost the overseas territories she had occupied. 

Consequently, the ownership of Formosa, as Taiwan was then called, was to have reverted to the mainland. However, the victors of WW2, especially the US and Great Britain, decided to usurp the island and give it to General Chiang Kai-shek, a Western-leaning leader, through his party the Kuomintang (KMT). In November 1943, President Roosevelt, Prime Minister Churchill and General Chiang Kai-shek had met in Cairo, Egypt, to seal the deal. 

Meanwhile, the CPC's army led by Chairman Mao Zedong, and Chiang Kai-shek's forces were in the throes of a vicious civil war on the mainland. By 1949, however, the General's forces had been routed by the Chairman's peasant fighters. Chiang Kai-shek and his troops fled to Taiwan in defeat, with the help of the Allied forces, but not after they had looted some of the precious national treasures of the Dynasty. 

Since then, the PRC has vowed to pursue the remnants of the conquered army with the intention of reuniting the Chinese people on the island with the mother land. Fast forward to 2021 and the same old imperialist powers are still propping up the Taiwanese Government. 

Although all countries that have diplomatic relations with the PRC have accepted the 'One China Principle'; that there is only one China and Taiwan is an integral part of it - today a good number of Western countries, including the United States, seem to be reneging in their acceptance of the principle. Such ambivalence is actually fueling the hostility over Taiwan today. As a consequence, China does not appear to be bluffing when it tells countries, which have embassies in Beijing that if, their support for Taiwan to secede from the mainland crosses the PRC's 'red line', war would eventuate. 


But Western powers are undeterred, despite China's willingness to uphold the peace and to work cooperatively towards resolving serious multilateral and global challenges. The Western Allies, however, regard their collective support for Taiwan as protecting the rules-based international order because Taiwan is a thriving liberal democracy and has a free market economy. They note with anger that China is taking a very different position on the rules-based order, therefore, it must be persuaded, if not coerced, to fall in line. 

According to Wikipedia, the rules-based international order, "sometimes referred to as the rules-based or the US-led international order, describes a set of global, rule-based, structured relationships based on political liberalism, economic liberalism and liberal internationalism since the late 1940s". The implication here is that all countries should follow what the liberal democratic nations want or do, because it is the only way to achieve peace, prosperity and harmony in the world. 

Unsurprisingly, China and Russia have rejected such an ideologically-loaded international order. They have contented instead for the role of international law, genuine multilateralism and the centrality of the United Nations - to manage relations between nation-states. To them this would be more democratic, inclusive of the bulk of the world's population and rely more on international law - with its well-tested guidelines, legal precedents and time-honored conflict resolution mechanisms - than on an 'order' based on Western norms. 

Thus, the desire of the US and its Allies to catch China on the pretext of not complying with the rules-based international order seems to have been thwarted, resulting in the Western countries' intense frustration with the world's economic superpower. 

Moreover, China's remarkable economic performance, especially since it joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, has stirred up ill feelings amongst the G7 countries: they seem to regret the fact that it had been through their genuine support that China was able to enter the WTO. 

Wikipedia has pointed out that the 'Build Back Better World (B3W)' initiative, launched in 2021 at the G7 meeting, has been "designed to provide an alternative to China's Belt and Road Initiative" which, in fact, is a move to undercut China's world-wide influence through its Belt and Road Initiative.

 The creation of the G7's B3W project also proves that China's win-win development model for advancing world trade, seamless transportation modes, robust business connectivity and non-stop infrastructure constructions - especially in developing countries, through the BRI - is gaining huge global attention. 

Due to its economic prowess, China now has the second largest, if not the largest, and best performing economy on the planet. In Purchasing Power Parity (PPP), China surpassed the US in 2014. Most economic commentators have projected the PRC's economy to overtake that of the US before 2028. However, according to a recent 'Yahoo News', quoting a new report, China is the world's richest country in 2021, with its "wealth (rising) from $7 trillion in 2000 to $120 trillion in 2020. 

The US, on the other hand, saw its wealth more than double to $90 trillion in the same period" - a 30 trillion dollars difference in the amount of wealth created by each country. The PRC is still producing, trading and investing furiously despite the impacts of Covid-19 or the sanctions imposed by the US on Chinese leaders, industries, tech companies or goods and services. 

Nevertheless, it's in the creation and application of cutting-edge technology that China has largely outmatched the Western nations - and they don't like it at all - perhaps because China is still designated as a developing country in the WTO, enjoying all the special conditions accorded to that status by the organization, which would seem quite unfair given the remarkable maturity of China's economy. That said, it is in the PRC'S application of 'big data', 'AI' (Artificial Intelligence) and 5G telecommunications, technologies, in the services, manufacturing, transportation and robotics sectors, for example, that has created probably the biggest gap between China and the West. 

By applying 5G telecommunications system, big data, AI and the 'internet of things', with highly sophisticated algorithms - it has enabled the Asian nation to produce driverless vehicles, high-speed railways, conduct surgery from a distance, launch rockets, build a space station, make hypersonic glide vehicles, lead in the production of electric vehicles (EVs), run a cashless society, etc. Richard Turrin's books: 'Innovation Lab Excellence: Digital Transformation from Within' and 'Cashless: China's Digital Currency Revolution' are instructive in understanding China's excellence, leadership and dominance in the high-tech sphere.  

Yet, the US and its Allies continue to treat China condescendingly, as if it is a rogue state or a banana republic. It is not. Under the Biden Administration, Trump's anti-China policies have remained intact. Today, the US, NATO, QUAD, and AUKUS are assembling weapons of mass destruction and other resources in the vicinity of China. The Western powers are completely consumed by what can only be described as extreme dislike or hatred for the PRC that the only course of action they could think of, to clip China's wings, is to go to war to obliterate the impressive national achievements China has gained so far. Certainly, China cannot be that foolish to go to war with such belligerent warmongers, at least in the near term. 


Western powers have been putting the countries of the 'Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN)' under tremendous pressures to take sides. Since the March high level meeting in Anchorage between China and the US top officials, more important visits have been undertaken by senior members of the Biden Foreign Affairs and Defense Departments. 

Wendy Sherman, the Deputy Secretary of State visited a number of Asian capitals at the end of July, and then Tinjian City, near Beijing, for discussions. 

Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, did the same to selected countries in the region. In Singapore, he gave a speech to the 'Singapore Institute for International Studies' in which he continued to ridicule China for claiming and occupying the South China Sea. He also made a call for "ASEAN's cooperation for a stronger rules-based international order". However, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore has responded by sounding a warning not to try and 'make China an enemy', as 'no good thing' will come out from such animosity. Towards the end of August, Vice-President Kamala Harris visited Vietnam as part of the overall campaign to win over the ASEAN. 

In general, though, ASEAN is wary about US's intentions, and is pushing back attempts to turn the group against China, although if the buying and selling of weapons is an indication of co-operation between nations, then the recent purchases of arms by the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam from the US might indicate a warming of relations between these particular countries and the US.

In West Asia, India which has boundary and political disputes with China and Pakistan, is seen as a key player for controlling the seas adjacent to the Adaman Islands, which are literally at the western entrance of the Malacca Strait, where trillions of dollars worth of petroleum and general merchandize pass through into the South China Sea and thence to China and beyond. The QUAD could block the strait. 

Using other passages such as the Lombok Strait, located between the islands of Bali and Lombok, and Sunda Strait which is between the islands of Java and Sumatra - all in Indonesia - to access the Indian Ocean from the Java Sea, will also be problematic for China. The Cocos (Keeling) Islands, which is a territory of Australia in the Indian Ocean, sits almost opposite the two passageways. Having conventional submarines, let alone nuclear powered ones, would enable Australia to guard the two entrances. Similarly, the Miyako Strait that is between Miyako and Okinawa islands is constantly under Japan's prying eyes, although it is an international waterway. 

The only body of water that connects the South China Sea to the Pacific Ocean, and which China could have some control over, is the Luzon Strait, located between the Philippines and Taiwan. All in all, it is not difficult to see what the purpose and role of the QUAD will be in the event that the Western powers decide to block off all trade routes leading in and out of China. 


A cardinal belief held by Western nations is that if China were allowed to flourish unchecked, it would be detrimental to their dominance, security and the survival of their way of life. Consequently, the protection of national security, cultural supremacy and national survival has always been strong motivating factors in the West's negative attitude towards the PRC. They invariably view China through the prisms of their own exceptionalism, zero-sum worldview, winner-take-all culture and the Darwinian survival-of-the-fittest belief. In West's playbook, these inculcated values have led modern-day hegemons, as well as their corporate media to not only put China down, but also to create a public perception that the dragon is out to devour every nation on earth. 

But does China really want to build an empire similar to those that existed in the past, and still exist today? Or is this merely a 'projection' of what the Western powers have done in their histories, therefore, China would be doing it too? In the last forty years, there has been little, if any, evidence that the PRC wants to dominate the world or build an empire. China seems to be mainly interested in commerce (trade, investment…) and resource acquisition - in other words, more interested in improving and sustaining the wellbeing of its 1.4 billion people, and rising, by helping to build a robust and sustainable global economy. 

Here is a 'civilization state' that has managed to peacefully resolve its territorial disputes with several neighboring countries, and has not fought any external, protracted wars anywhere, except for very short conflicts, each lasting for about four weeks, with India (1962) and Vietnam (1979). 

Here is a country that has only one military base outside, at the Horn of Africa, in Djibouti. China is not a global military juggernaut like the US is with about eight hundred military bases around the world, but the PRC does possess increasingly sophisticated naval, air and land military capabilities, let alone having nuclear-capable 'hypersonic orbital glide vehicles' that can dive undetected from space and strike swiftly and furiously at any military targets of the enemy that might wish to attack China in its own backyard. 

Given that the PRC is likely to use high-tech weapons in any battle against her, it would be insane to try and start a war that could end up in nuclear conflagrations. Yet, the 'drums of war' are beating: Western powers and their 'free and objective' media outlets, as well as the so-called 'independent' policy institutions in the Indo-Pacific region are beyond remorse for their war mantra. 

So what exactly has China said or done that deeply frustrates and infuriates the US and other Western powers, to the extent that they are seriously planning to go to war against the Asian trading, investment and manufacturing giant? It is puzzling. However, cultural pride and war-addiction die hard, and warmongers will always find an alleged reason to fight. 


Even so, Western countries see the PRC's socialist ideology as an ever-present danger to any free and liberal form of governance. In their eyes, there should only be one system of government for all mankind, regardless of the diversity of human populations, cultures, conditions and histories. 

In this regard, Professor Francis Fukuyama's essay, 'The End of History…' written after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, may have misled them. For he had assured the Western world that liberal democracy had defeated the socialist-communist form of governance and, therefore, the former should be a timeless model for all systems of government. 

But Fukuyama was probably oblivious of the fact that a five-thousand-year-old country, tucked away in a corner of Asia was, at the time, clawing its way back to prominence with a Marxist-Leninist ideology to rebuild the Chinese society. The powers that be seemed to have believed Fukuyama, though, and so they insisted, and still insist, on deposing despots or authoritarian rulers and replacing them with democratically elected ones. Consequently, in due time, Saddam Hussein was deposed in Iraq; he was found guilty by a court and executed, and Muammar Qaddafi, the Libyan benevolent strongman was eliminated in the desert trying to flee from the wrath of West's liberal democratic leaders. Today, both Iraq and Libya are in a worse socio-political state than they were under their former rulers. In Syria, an attempt by the Western powers to depose President Bashar al-Assad has failed. So has the attempt by the Western countries to build a new democratic regime in Afghanistan. 

Indeed, the hurried departure of West's modern armies from Afghanistan would appear to indicate that the desire to mould every nation in the image of Western liberal democracy seems to be as elusive as ever. It is one thing to look down on other systems of government; it is quite another to try and project one's own as a safe and benign alternative.


In the Pacific region, Australia, France, the US and, to a less extent, New Zealand, are presumptuous 'big brothers' and protectors of the diverse collection of island nations. Western powers have insisted that the 'Blue Pacific' is under their control so that the sovereign little states and territories in the region must be cared for, or monitored in their relationship with China. Western nations seem to regard the Pacific Ocean as their own private pond. Although such a possessive attitude smacks of domination and condescension, it might have its place in the overall scheme of things in some parts of the Pacific. But one cannot talk of a level playing field in the region: each of the sub-regions therein is different in its economic fundamentals, resource endowments and development needs. 

It follows that the nations in each sub-region, with their diverse population sizes, national interests and development aspirations cannot be restricted to a single development paradigm, or tap just a few sources of development finance or project assistance - to achieve their goals. Depending mainly on the World Bank, IMF, ADB or on European Banks to secure loans, for example, has been the country's traditional practice. However, today alternative financial sources do exist. The road to national prosperity and societal transformation is open to different kinds of benefactors that maybe willing and ready to assist developing nations to move up the development path. This is where China's banking system might provide something different and more accommodating, especially in the funding of infrastructure developments.

China's diplomatic ties with the countries in the Pacific, including Australia, New Zealand, the French territories (through France), and the eight independent island states - has given China the opportunity to forge mutually beneficial relations with them, in good faith, as members of the UN. However, China's relationships with the eight pro-Beijing island nations are being monitored very closely by Western sentinels. The US and its Allies are obviously alarmed by the relationships, obviously due to geopolitical reasons, but perhaps also out a genuine concern that some of the independent countries in the region are so fragile and lack institutional strengths or political will, to protect their valuable resources and assets, which are being plundered by unscrupulous investors. 

However, not all relationships that Beijing forged with the Pacific countries are healthy. Australia which has had a highly successful economic relationship with the PRC for nearly three decades - has, within the last few years, been pushing back strongly against China's presence and influence in Australia. By the same token, Australia is probably eager that independent nations in its own backyard should follow her example. However, it must be said that the sovereign island countries in the Pacific do have minds of their own. They are more interested in doing business with any partner-country that is capable of giving them greater opportunities to grow their economies, and to provide critical development projects, such as roads, sea- and airports as well as highways - to boost such growth. 

The Pacific Islands are also concerned about climate change and sea level rise - issues that are far from being mitigated. These are subject matters that burn fiercely in the conscience of leaders in the island countries. And what will make matters even worse for the Pacific region is to see more nuclear-capable military installations built therein, or for nuclear armed submarines to move around its waters. Citizens of island states could suffer immeasurably - like those who had lived near Muroroa Atoll in French Polynesia, or Bikini in the Marshall Islands did - should an adversary decides to take out the bases or hunt down nuclear submarines and blows them up somewhere in the Pacific where they could leak nuclear fumes or wastes. The adverse health effects inflicted by the French and US nuclear tests, decades ago, in the two atolls mentioned have been inhuman.

New Zealand is the role model for island countries in her strong push back against nuclear proliferation in the Pacific in accordance with the 'South Pacific Nuclear-free Zone (SPNFZ) Treaty of Rarotonga'. The Treaty addresses "nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament by preventing the placement of nuclear weapons within the South Pacific by member states (Article 5)".  

Today in the region, China and Australia can be described as enemies when it comes to trade, investment and geopolitical matters. Australia is a very strong ally of the US, and one of the military powers in the QUAD, AUKUS and Five Eyes (US, UK, Canada, New Zealand and Australia) groupings. The main aim of these groups is to contain China and to block it from expanding into the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Their pretext for doing so is premised on China being an 'enemy' of all things Western.   

The two Anglophone nations in Oceania, Australia and New Zealand, are Pacific islands' long-standing and reliable neighbors in times of war and peace. In the Solomons, both countries have assisted in resolving the ethnic tension through the 'Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands' (RAMSI), (2003-2017). At the time of writing, they are again assisting in yet another socio-political turmoil, accompanied by mayhem and destruction in the capital, Honiara. The presence of China in the country has been one of the concerns of the rioters. 

The Solomons, however, should not allow itself to be goaded into picking sides. China and Australia, with their respective Allies, have something beneficial to offer in development aid and tangible projects. Achieving the best outcomes from both sides should be the main aim of Solomon Islands foreign policy. 

Even so, the recent demise of the Government of former Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi in Samoa, after a 23-year reign, would seem to indicate that the big powers in the region do have a grand strategy to whittle away China's influence in the Pacific. The Government of the former Prime Minister was a strong supporter of the PRC. Under its watch, relations between the two countries flourished. The new Government, led by Fiame Naomi Mata'afa, however, appears to be not as keen on Beijing as evidenced in her prompt announcement, after her election, to shelve the 100-million-dollar China-funded project to expand the seaport at Vaiusu Bay. (Voanews.com). 

Samoa's experience is a warning to other small independent nations in the Pacific that have a high regard for Beijing. We have discussed, above, the apparent efforts by the QUAD and AUKUS countries to undermine China's presence in the Solomons by making moves to establish a foothold in Malaita. In addition, I would argue that they seem to be making good progress in managing to secure the total dependence of the MARA leadership on them, and not on the national Government and its development partner, China. Therefore, as long as the festering hostility between the MARA Government and the DCGA is not resolved early, it would be extremely difficult to maintain the peace and unity in the country. 


Solomon Islands has become a hotspot in the geopolitical battle between China and the West in the Indo-Pacific region. A lot of troubling developments in the South China Sea, Taiwan and the South Pacific can lead to a confrontation between the superpowers. China's presence in the Solomons is a constant irritation to Pacific's big powers; therefore, MARA's resistance against China would sit well with their agenda. 

I would contend that if the Western Powers continue to be given a strong foothold in Malaita, by the MARA leadership, because all of them still like Taiwan to be in the country - Solomon Islands and China will have an existential challenge in their hands. There is a bunch of empirical evidence to suggest that, typically, Western powers would not balk at their own hypocrisy or double-standard in the execution of their foreign policies. As long as they can achieve the maintenance of their hegemony over the Pacific countries, that is what matters. 

On the other hand, the PRC has stated categorically she is in the country to stay, and any attempt to undermine her welcome and duly lawful presence in the Solomons or the Pacific Islands "will fail". 

Because of its strategic location in the Western Pacific, Solomon Islands must navigate carefully through the issues that are likely to ignite conflict between the adversaries so as not to incur any likely collateral damages that maybe sustained from a possible kinetic war between the superpowers.  

- Is a former Secretary for Foreign Affairs 
- A former advisor to four Prime Ministers
- Has read International Relations at ANU
- Holds an MBA (International) degree from the University of Waikato, NZ
- Has a BA in Political Science, History and Economics (UPNG)