Chinese influence expanding in Pacific

April 03, 2019

A Solomon Islands government to be elected tomorrow could consider switching its diplomatic ties to China from Taiwan, according to Australia’s former high commissioner to the Solomons.

The Conservative Party continues to call for a royal commission into Chinese Communist Party influence and this is yet another example of the pernicious Sino expansionism.

The Australian reports, six Pacific island nations still recognise Taiwan, which excludes them from maintaining diplomatic ties with China. But Beijing is working on a global campaign to isolate Taipei by undermining these relationships.

Current Prime Minister Rick Hou’s political party has said it will review Solomon Islands’ diplomatic relations with Taiwan if re-elected.

Former high commissioner James Batley, an academic attached to the Australian National University, is in the Solomon Islands as part of an election observer team.

Mr Batley said some politicians were pushing behind the scenes for the small Pacific nation to switch to recognise China, its largest export market, after the election.

“It is an issue that’s in the wind here. I think there is a sense that this is an issue that the next government will at the very least have to consider actively,” he said.

“It’s not the first time the issue has been raised in the Solomons. At the moment there is the sense that China is a rising power in the Pacific … and certainly some educated Solomon Islanders are saying let’s consider this, let’s look at this, should we switch?”

The Australian Defence Force is providing soldiers and deploying hardware to the ­islands to guard against any possible outbreak of violence.

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Royal Commission on China needed

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