WELLINGTON, New Zealand – The United States opened. An embassy in the Solomon Islands on Thursday to counter China’s push in the Pacific.
The embassy in the capital Honiara is starting small, with a charge d’affaires. A handful of State Department staff and a handful of local employees. The United States before operated an embassy in the Solomon Islands. Before closing it in 1993 as part of a global downsizing of diplomatic posts following the end of the Cold War.
But China’s bold moves in the region have prompted.
The US to step up its engagement in many ways, such as donating Covid-19 vaccines. Bringing back Peace Corps volunteers to several island nations. And investing in forestry and tourism projects.
“Opening embassies builds on efforts. Only to deploy more diplomatic personnel throughout the region. But also to engage more with our Pacific neighbors, to connect U.S. programs. And resources to needs on the ground, and to build among the people. ties,” Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said in a statement.
The opening comes as Fiji’s new leader, Prime Minister Sitivni Rabuka. Appears to be reevaluating some aspects of his nation’s engagement with China. Rabuka told The Fiji Times last week that he plans to conclude. A police training and exchange agreement with China.
The US State Department told lawmakers early last year. That China’s growing influence in the region made reopening the Solomon Islands embassy a priority. Since then, the Solomons have signed a security agreement with China. Raising fears of a military build-up in the region. And the US has retaliated by sending several high-level delegations.
The Solomon Islands switched allegiance from the self-governing island of Taiwan to Beijing in 2019. Threatening close ties with the United States that date back to World War II.
“We see this bond weakening as the People’s Republic. China seeks to engage with Solomon Islands’ political. And business elites, using unreasonable promises, expensive infrastructure loans. And dangerous debt levels. A December notice to Congress obtained by The Associated Press said.