Daniel Suidani, a former provincial premier of Solomon Islands who was ousted from office for standing up against Beijing's foreign interference, says countries need to be very careful when dealing with communist regimes as they don't share the same values as other parts of the world.
"The [ideology] of communism, ... these people are atheist. They don't believe in God. We need to be very mindful of this because we will be having a friendship with somebody with different values and principles. So we need to be very careful and the people need to understand before involving in anything with the CCP [Chinese Communist Party]," Suidani, the former premier of Malaita Province, the most populous province in Solomon Islands, told The Epoch Times.
In October 2019, Suidani issued the "Auki Communique" from the premier's office, a document issued to fend off interference and influence operations by the CCP. It also affirmed the fundamental rights and freedoms of the Malaitan people, including protection of the law and the freedom of expression and religion, while rejecting the "CCP and its formal systems based on atheist ideology."
In addition, Suidani's government barred new investors with any connections to the CCP from operating in the province. The communique highlighted the importance of safeguarding Malaita's resources and sovereignty from "wilful and exploitive investors" including preserving the province's natural environment from over-development by CCP-linked companies such as logging from the forests.
But his courageous efforts did not sit well with Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare's government, which has adopted a series of policies over the past few years that pivot the country's foreign policy closer to Beijing.
The Taiwanese government in return terminated diplomatic relations with the island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, criticizing Sogavare's decision to disregard the 36 years of cooperation between Solomon Islands and Taiwan.
Suidani faced repercussions for his defiance and was ousted from his post in a contentious no-confidence vote in February 2023. An article published in the Solomon Star newspaper also falsely accused him of colluding with the Taiwanese and U.S. governments to plot an assassination of Prime Minister Sogavare—a move that Suidani said was likely to provide the government with justification to arrest him.
"Because of the propaganda, my children are very scared," Suidani said. "They are frightened of things that continue happening in the country, especially, [the authorities] are finding ways to arrest me."
As the government of Solomon Islands moved closer to Beijing, the CCP's interference in the country has also intensified.
In August 2022, Sogavare's government agreed to a US$66 million loan (roughly C$$90 million) from China to build 161 Huawei telecommunications towers across the country. This included 24 in Malaita Province, which were ultimately rejected by Suidani.
A February 2023 report, published by Washington, D.C.-based NGO Foundation for Defense of Democracies said the CCP made use of a slush fund to buy the support of 39 of the 50 members of Parliament in Solomon Islands, enough to allow the Sogavare government to postpone the next national elections scheduled for this year. The government argued that the delay was due to the need to focus on the upcoming Pacific Games, to be held in Honiara, the capital of Solomon Islands.
The CCP's use of "elite capture" is among the various means to influence the country, said Celsus Talifilu, the adviser to Suidani.
"There is the elite capture, there is the use of lawfare, there is the use of propaganda—those things are now being used in our country like never before," he told The Epoch Times.
The impacts of the CCP's foreign interference is also felt in Canada, as recent media reports revealed the regime's attempts to meddle in the past two federal elections, in 2019 and 2021. Similar tactics of elite capture were also used, as national security sources alleged that funding was provided to at least 11 federal candidates in the 2019 election, according to a Global News report published in November 2022.
Call for Unity
Suidani, who has been travelling across North America over the past few weeks and arrived in Canada on May 20, said he remains steadfast in defending his country. He also called for people across different communities in Canada to come together to resist the Beijing regime.
"I really love my country. ... That is the very reason why we need to continue this messaging, in terms of freedom and liberty," he said.
"What keeps me going is that we want to have the same freedom that the North American people have, the Taiwanese people have. ... We want to become part of the [democratic societies] that share that same freedom.
He also called on Canadians to keep themselves informed and stay strong in the face to disruptive efforts from malign foreign actors.
"We need to stand up to these people together in ways that we can stand together for the liberty and the freedom that we expect for our children and the children of our children," he said.