China’s Police Aid to Solomon Islands Attempts to Undermine US Dominance in the Pacific

By Shawn Lin
Shawn Lin
Shawn Lin
Shawn Lin is a Chinese expatriate living in New Zealand. He has contributed to The Epoch Times since 2009, with a focus on China-related topics.
January 3, 2022Updated: January 4, 2022

News Analysis

The recent anti-CCP (Chinese Communist Party) unrest in the Solomon Islands has prompted the Chinese regime to send police aid to the Pacific Islands nation. Beijing’s move attempts to undermine the United States as the dominant power in the Pacific, according to analysts.

On Dec. 23, Beijing confirmed that it would send a police advisory team to the Solomon Islands, along with emergency riot equipment for police after the Solomon Islands government requested police aid. Police from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, and Papuan New Guinea were already in the country assisting with peace-keeping efforts.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) spokesperson Zhao Lijian said the personnel and the supplies would arrive in the Solomon Islands soon, adding that China firmly backs the government of Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare’s right to defend “the country’s stability” while condemning any illegal and violent actions.

Following Beijing’s announcement, Sogavare’s government thanked Beijing for providing anti-riot equipment and sending six Chinese liaison officers to train the country’s local police force in an official statement.

Sogavare had just survived a no-confidence vote on Dec. 6, after it was alleged that he had been bribed by the CCP for his support.

Epoch Times Photo
Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare (R) and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang inspect honour guards during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Oct. 9, 2019. (Wang Zhao/AFP via Getty Images)

The Solomon Islands is located about 1,500 kilometers northeast of Australia, east of Papua New Guinea, and has a population of about 700,000.

On Nov. 24, protests against Sogavare’s pro-Beijing administration broke out in Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands. The protests quickly escalated into riots that lasted three days. The local Chinatown was ransacked and dozens of properties were burned down, including police stations, banks, and private dwellings. At least three were killed.

According to a BBC report citing the country’s central bank, an estimated 63 buildings in the capital city were burned and looted, many of which were Chinese-owned.

One of the primary triggers for the unrest was Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare’s sudden decision to establish diplomatic relations with China and cut ties with Taiwan—which it had maintained diplomatic relations with for 36 years.

Despite polls that showed 80 percent of Solomon Islanders and over 50 percent of parliament being against breaking longstanding relations with Taiwan in favor of China, Sogavare was dead set on the move, reportedly in exchange for $500 million in aid from Beijing, according to a Taiwan News report.

Epoch Times Photo
Anti-government message adorns a burnt-out building in Honiara, Solomon Islands, on Nov. 27, 2021. (Charley Piringi/AFP via Getty Images)

In 2017, Australia and the Solomon Islands signed a bilateral security treaty, allowing Australian police, defense, and associated civilian personnel to deploy rapidly to the Pacific Island nation if the need arises and where both countries consent. However, the Solomon Islands’ move to call on both Canberra and Beijing for aid has raised concerns for potential conflicts.

The 1942 Battle of Guadalcanal established the strategic importance of the Solomon Islands in the Pacific. The critical military campaign was fought by Allied forces against the Empire of Japan during World War II on the principal island in Guadalcanal Province of Solomon Islands, ending all Japanese expansion attempts during World War II.

A Wall Street Journal editorial on Dec. 29 called the Solomon Islands a critical importance for Pacific security, highlighting the importance of U.S. engagement with the small but strategic sovereign states dotting the world’s largest ocean. A small security presence on the Solomon Islands could help Beijing’s bid to undermine the United States as the dominant power in the Pacific.

The article added that if more Chinese security forces were sent to the Solomon Islands in future civil unrest, such action could risk putting Australian and Chinese forces in conflict.

Beijing’s Plan to Increase Policing Worldwide

Beijing relies on the Chinese police force to maintain its political and economic interests domestically and abroad. In Hong Kong, China’s police forces have showcased their contempt for individual rights and the independent rule of law, calling its actions against Hong Kongers “maintaining stability.”

According to China’s Ministry of Finance, the CCP’s expenditures for “maintaining stability”—domestic and abroad—have exceeded its defense spending for three consecutive years since 2011. After 2014, the data on its police force expenditure was no longer made public.

While suppressing its own people, the CCP is more than willing to export its communist repression abroad.

The Epoch Times obtained an internal document from the Yunnan Police Officer Academy in May 2020, revealing the CCP’s plan to increase its police presence abroad through its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Epoch Times Photo
A giant Buddha on the Thai side of the Golden Triangle in Chiang Rai Province on Sept. 20, 2019. China wants to cut a canal through southern Thailand to build a bypass to the Strait of Malacca. (Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP via Getty Images)

The document showed the institute trained 56 foreign Master’s students in policing from many BRI countries, including Afghanistan, Argentina, Angola, Pakistan, the Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, Mongolia, Myanmar. The CCP provided those foreign students with full scholarships.

The Yunnan Police Officer Academy has also established a Southeast Asian Police Training Base. From 2016 to 2019, 67 training courses were held to train 1,241 foreign police officers.

Political commentator Li Linyi said that the CCP is nurturing and recruiting foreign police agents to spread its ideology and influence abroad.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.