How a rebellious state in the Pacific confronts Beijing’s pressure, bribes, and Belt and Road

In September 2019, the Solomon Islands and Kiribati decided to withdraw Taiwan’s diplomatic recognition of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). This move was the latest step in Beijing’s ongoing efforts to seize Taiwan’s international status.

In the face of the Solomon Islands government’s decision, Daniel Suidani, Prime Minister of Malaita Province, the island’s most populous region, supports Taiwan despite pressure from federal colleagues and Beijing. I continue to stick to it.

“What we’ve seen from China’s involvement with other countries in the region is that everything looks very good at first, but in the end, countries deal with the problems associated with dealing with China. I find it difficult to do. “He said Australian person..

“As for Malaita, we don’t want to impose restrictions on ourselves, so we don’t need any help from China,” he added.

Epoch Times Photo
A traditional dancer at an ocean event at Lawson Tama Stadium on November 25, 2019 in Honiara, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands. (Chris Jackson / Getty Images)

After winning the June 2019 state elections, Suidani was contacted by an agent acting on behalf of Beijing and said he was offered $ 1 million (US $ 125,200) to switch loyalty from Taiwan to China.

“I received the offer over the phone, and they told me where they were and wanted to meet me to discuss it,” he says. “I knew I needed to take a strong stance on such an offer, and I could drive to where they were staying and tell them I wouldn’t accept it. I was able to do it. “

“When I arrived, I decided that I wasn’t even right to go up and see them. I called and said I wasn’t for sale, and they You should keep their money, “he added.

Mr. Suidani could not comment on whether other politicians were offered bribes, but if Beijing was willing to approach him, other leaders could have been suggested. Said it was expensive.

He believes that China may have helped fund parliamentary election campaigns, which may have spurred the parliamentary decision to switch diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China. I will.

Solomon Islands
Protesters gather outside the Capitol building during a press conference by veteran politician Manase Sogavale on April 24, 2019 in Honiara, Solomon Islands. (Robert Taupongi / AFP via Getty Images)

The prospect of Beijing interfering with democracy in the Solomon Islands did not undermine Suidani’s resistance.

Only a month after the diplomatic shift, Suidani, with the help of fellow leaders, launched the Auki Communique, which rejects the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) ideology and its Belt and Road ideology.

“Remember that China and China are not as ordinary countries as many other countries in the world. They have a global ambition to rule the world,” he told the crowd. .. State legislature..

“For example, China is overwhelmingly targeting poor countries such as the Solomon Islands, which are unable to pay debts and loans. China has confiscated some or all of its ports from countries that cannot repay its debts,” he said. Added.

In June 2020, Suidani approached Taiwan during the first outbreak of COVID-19. For help With that pandemic reaction.

The move has sparked a strong reaction from the Solomon Islands Foreign Minister and the local Chinese embassy, ​​especially to calling Taiwan the Republic of China. This means that the island is a separate autonomous organization from Beijing.

Foreign Minister Jeremiah Manele said, “When such a divisive statement from the Prime Minister needs to help prevent COVID-19 from invading the border and politicize the virus, the country It threatens unification. ” In the statement..

Chinese Embassy Spokesperson I answered in this statement, “The claims and actions of Malaita leaders are illegal, inappropriate and completely wrong. It violates China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and undermines the national sentiment of the Chinese people.”

A few days later, Suidani told Australia that the federal government had seized drug shipments from Taiwan and called it a “rebellion.”

With the Solomon Islands and Kiribati choosing to partner with Beijing, Tuvalu, Nauru, the Marshall Islands and Palau are the remaining South Pacific island nations to maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

Efforts are being made to isolate Taiwan on the diplomatic world as Beijing continues to promote soft power in the region through advertising, foreign aid and infrastructure investment under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

BRI is Beijing’s $ 1 trillion global infrastructure financing scheme, which has been criticized for incurring debt to developing countries.

Belt and Road Forum Panel
Workers will drop the Belt and Road Forum panel outside the Beijing Forum venue on April 27, 2019. (GregBaker / AFP via Getty Images)

The US and Australian governments have responded to Beijing’s efforts in the Pacific with their own anti-initiatives.

Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu warned that Beijing could eventually militarize the South Pacific beyond foreign aid and diplomatic relations, turning it into “another South China Sea.”

“We’ve seen reports that China is interested in reopening this radar station in Kiribati and building a naval base in the western provinces of the Solomon Islands,” he said. 2019 Pacific Islands Dialogue..

“I certainly don’t want to see the Pacific turn into another South China Sea. One day I sigh that it’s too late for us to do anything.”