The U.S. Coast Guard ship Oliver Henry was met with silence when it requested permission to make a scheduled port call in the Solomon Islands, forcing the crew to go to Papua New Guinea instead.
The incident comes amid growing concerns over the influence of the Chinese Communist Party in the region and the continued weakening of the democratic institutions in the Solomon Islands, which have relied heavily on China during a period of domestic turmoil.
USCG Cutter Oliver Henry was on Operations Island Chief with vessels from Australia, New Zealand and the UK to monitor and prevent illegal fishing activity in the South Pacific.
The operation ended on August 16th. At this time, a US Coast Guard vessel attempted a scheduled port call to Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands for refueling and resupply. Associated Press.
Solomon’s Democracy Begins to Weaken
Radio silence from Solomon authorities suggests Prime Minister Manaseh Sogavale’s government is not only deepening ties with Beijing, but is steadily undermining the country’s democratic institutions to strengthen his position. A series of events follows.
On August 18, the Sogavare government received a 448.9 million yuan (US$66.15 million) loan from the state-owned China Exim Bank to build 161 mobile towers in the country. signed a large contract with .
Meanwhile, on August 8, the prime minister’s team introduced new legislation to postpone national elections. Some experts have suggested it could be a way for the prime minister to avoid a potential election loss.
These actions came after Sogavare signed a security pact with Beijing to allow the Chinese Communist Party to station weapons, troops and naval vessels in the country. This gives Beijing a military presence near Australia, New Zealand, and the US territory of Guam.
Meanwhile, Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tn.) recently met with Sogavare and other leaders in the region to urge them to “stand against the Chinese Communist Party.”
“The Indo-Pacific region is the next frontier on the Axis of New Evil,” Blackburn said in a statement.
“Meetings with the leaders of Fiji, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea were an important step in demonstrating America’s commitment to the region and expanding our strategic relationship.”