Unpredictable Solomon Islands Blocked Foreign Vessels From Their Port

Chinese Influence?

The Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has grown more and more unpredictable after signing a security pact with China in April. The country is now refusing foreign naval vessels’ port calls. A US Coast Guard vessel had to turn away from their port,  a port call which had been regularly scheduled.

August 26, 2022

Screenshot the USCGC Oliver Henry

“A U.S. coast guard cutter conducting patrols as part of an international mission to prevent illegal fishing was recently unable to get clearance for a scheduled port call in Solomon Islands, an incident that comes amid growing concerns of Chinese influence on the Pacific nation.

The cutter Oliver Henry was taking part in Operation Island Chief monitoring fishing activities in the Pacific, which ended Friday, when it sought to make a scheduled stop at Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, to refuel and re-provision, the Coast Guard office in Honolulu said.

There was no response from the Solomon Islands’ government for diplomatic clearance for the vessel to stop there, however, so the Oliver Henry diverted to Papua New Guinea, the Coast Guard said.”  AP

A British Royal Navy ship was also denied the port call and had to divert. But Sogavare was happy to receive a US hospital ship bringing aid, which made Senator Marsha Blackburn wonder what was going on when she visited the country recently. The nation switched its diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to Beijing in 2019.

“It is extremely concerning that Solomon Islands are blocking military vessels from their waters.” Senator Marsha Blackburn R-TN

Now Biden wants to place a US embassy in the Solomon Islands for the first time in thirty years to counter China’s growing influence. Whether or not that will actually happen is up in the air. The politics of Manasseh Sogavare have become increasingly unpredictable.

Sogavare has a history of erratic behaviour, which contributed to him previously losing office as prime minister, said Australian National University Pacific expert Graeme Smith…

Sogavare is pushing back against pro-democracy messaging from Washington to avoid being a pawn in a superpower contest, said Mihai Sora, an Australian former diplomat in the Solomon Islands. “Particularly to Sogavare, it is antagonising.”

His abrupt absence from the 80th anniversary commemoration of the Battle of Guadalcanal played into China’s goals of keeping U.S. influence at bay, said Sora, a research fellow at Australia’s Lowy Institute think tank.

“Of all the Pacific islands leaders, Sogavare is the one that is most accommodating to China’s strategic intent,” he said.  Yahoo News 

The political climate in the area around the Solomon Islands is complicated. The archipelago exists in a region known as “Oceania.” It lies near Australia, The Philippines,  and Indonesia. China has been working hard to increase their influence in the region to counter the United States and our allies. This unpredictable issue could cause serious problems in the days and weeks ahead.



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Faye Higbee

Faye Higbee is the columnist manager for Uncle Sam's Misguided Children. She has been writing at Conservative Firing Line since 2013 as well. She is also a published author.

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