Quebec Standard

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Violence spurred by fears over the Pacific nation’s growing ties with China; Solomon police forced to action many arrests

On Saturday, November 27, 2021, Papua New Guinea police arrive in Honiara, Solomon Islands. In this week’s riots, which were spurred by fears over the Pacific nation’s growing ties with China, police discovered numerous dead in a fired property and detained more than 100 individuals.

According to Australian media, after rioting and protests quieted down, the remains were found late Friday. No further information was revealed. After completing a 36-hour lockdown ordered by beleaguered Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare on Friday, authorities enforced a curfew in Honiara.

With a barely disguised connection to Taiwan and the United States, Sogavare accused foreign interference of inciting the protesters, calling for his resignation.

Leaders of the country’s most populated island, Malaita, have chastised Sogavare for his choice in 2019 to sever formal relations with Taiwan in favour of mainland China. Beijing claims Taiwan, a self-governing island, as part of its territory.

Meanwhile, his administration has expressed dissatisfaction with millions of dollars in US help promised directly to Malaita instead of through the central government on Guadacanal’s main island, where Honiara is located. For years, the two islands have been competitors.

According to Andrew Yang, a professor at Taiwan’s National Sun Yat-sen University and former deputy defence minister, China’s efforts to get official relations from the Solomon Islands are part of a rivalry for regional supremacy with the United States and its partner, Australia.

On Wednesday, protests and riots occurred in Honiara’s Chinatown and downtown neighbourhoods, following a peaceful Malaita rally in the capital. Demonstrators set fire to the National Parliament, a police station, and several other structures, prompting police to use tear gas and rubber bullets.

Critics also blamed the upheaval on concerns about a lack of government services and accountability and corruption, and Chinese companies hiring foreigners rather than locals.

Source: CTV News

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