Solomons welcomes Australia to gunboat diplomacy

Friday’s coordinated attacks on PM Morrison from Beijing and Honiara said it all. This is a taste of the future if China is allowed to militarise its Pacific Axis.

Whenever Canberra is engaged in any decision of magnitude, the Axis will make its view known in loud and unyielding terms. If it is an issue of importance to Beijing then it will come with military exercises off the Australian coast to boot.

It would naive to think that this will change Australian decision-making. Over time, it will create a sense of fighting a losing battle. A fait accompli for Chinese power over Australia. It will force Canberra to hedge its bets much more than it does so now and that means ever-increasing Chinese influence domestically and, eventually, fatally weaken ANZUS.

Why now? I suspect that there’s an element of revenge in Friday’s statements.

Both Beijing and Honiara want their pound of flesh at the personal and institutional levels. Scott Morrison, his government, and the Coalition have humiliated Beijing and Honiara over years and its payback time.

Manasseh Sogavare has a long history of antipathy towards Australian involvement in the Solomons and, in the recent past, that has been led by Coalition Governments, most notably that of John Howard.

As well, he can use Australia bashing as a domestic political wedge to divide his enemies at home.

Finally, there is the policy bullying. The lowly Solomons followed up today by calling the tune on Australian economic policy:

Solomon Islands High Commissioner to Australia Robert Sisilo has urged Australia to broaden the Pacific Labour Mobility scheme to help repair the relationship between Canberra and Honiara.

Mr Sisilo said that China was a rising power and offered new opportunities. But he argued that Honiara was not turning away from Australia, just strengthening its relationship with Beijing.

Likewise, Xi Jinping has been so incensed by the Morrison Government’s disordered rhetoric over the years that he has made a series of policy blunders aimed at bullying Australia into line. The trade war, the 14 conditions, the digital attacks, and so on and so forth, have all backfired and succeeded only in hardening Australians’ resolve against China.

Bejing cannot endure such an upstart regime, even at the limits of its influence. It must be punished for other countries to see and learn and the Solomons is a terrific tool with which to do it.

On that basis, we can expect more of the same inflammatory rhetoric over the next few weeks and maybe even some kind of military visit by the Chinese to Honiara. A ship from the People’s Navy dropping by Guadalcanal a week out from polling day would be all that is needed.

What should we do about it? Never let the base be built. Then this latest feint will become just another extravagant wolf warrior exercise that can be fulsomely ignored.

Houses and Holes

Comments

  1. pfh007.comMEMBER

    “..The lowly Solomons followed up today by calling the tune on Australian economic policy:..”

    Umm no…. they are giving our idiot clown posse in Canberra some tips on what might actually improve our relationship with the Solomon Islands.

    If we are going to have temporary workers in Australia then let them be from our pacific neighbours that we want to stay friendly. Solomon Islanders will be much more attracted to access to Australian labour markets than those in China.

    Certainly beats offering temporary work positions to Chinese and Indian students and “backpacker” visas to all and sundry.

    There has been a lot of hysterical reactions to recent developments in the Solomon Islands but most of them forget that Solomon Islands is a democracy and appealing directly to Solomon Islanders is probably our best move.

    Putting on pith Helmets, blowing bugles and threatening them with Expeditionary Forces is probably the single worst approach at this time.

    It is exactly what China wants Scotty and Dudton to do.

  2. ”Why now? I suspect that there’s an element of revenge in Friday’s statements.
    Both Beijing and Honiara want their pound of flesh at the personal and institutional levels. Scott Morrison, his government, and the Coalition have humiliated Beijing and Honiara over years and its payback time.
    Manasseh Sogavare has a long history of antipathy towards Australian involvement in the Solomons and, in the recent past, that has been led by Coalition Governments, most notably that of John Howard.”

    Why now? What Xi is doing now is predictable given recent events. Australia cuts aid in the region over the last decade, then counters China with AUKUS last year and China simply counters back. The SI riots last year gave China all the leverage they needed. So sure, there may be an element of opportunism in the timing but, I’d say other factors are more telling.

    • Apropos of nothing much, We didn’t actually ever cut aid to the region we just stopped increasing it. we spent a bonanza on RAMSI and it seems got little gratitude for our efforts. countries have an absorptive capacity when it comes to development, you can’t just throw more and more money at them. I will refrain from repeating some home truths I’ve heard about Pacific loyalty. Finally contrary to endless statements in the Australian press, Australian aid is not tied (to Australian bidders), unlike most aid programs in the world, rightly or wrongly.

      • ”We didn’t actually ever cut aid to the region we just stopped increasing it.
        This government did cut aid to the region and they were deep cuts. Even after the LNP’s “Step-up” a few years ago the foreign aid budget was still around 1.1 billion per year less than it was under Labor because of those cuts.https://devpolicy.org/coalition-starts-to-reverse-aid-cuts-20210121/

        “We spent a bonanza on RAMSI and it seems got little gratitude for our efforts. “
        Yes and that effort started in 2003 was ended by this government some time ago. Sogavare is certainly no angel and there are complex issues in SI that will take some care to navigate. That’s still no reason to cut foreign aid or mock them over climate change while we drag our heels on that challenge. The good deeds of the past are soon forgotten when you have a government like ours and domestic political challenges like Sogavare’s.

        ”countries have an absorptive capacity when it comes to development, you can’t just throw more and more money at them.
        I agree we should be aiming with that aid to improve their self-sufficiency/development. It is not about throwing money at them but, sometimes that is necessary due to circumstances (Like natural disaster). We can also improve their economic integration with us which brings them, closer to us. Things this government has been slow to enact.

        ”I will refrain from repeating some home truths I’ve heard about Pacific loyalty.
        I’m sure there are more than a few “truths” circulating in the region about us – particularly now. The CCP will no doubt have their own propaganda and that can make loyalty even more fickle. One of the reasons giving the ABC a regional reach is wise.

  3. Ronin8317MEMBER

    Everything started when ScoMo insulted China and called for a global inquiry into Wuhan Lab as the origin of COVID.

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/29/australia-defends-plan-to-investigate-china-over-covid-19-outbreak-as-row-deepens

    In return, China is now crossing Australia’s military “red line” in the South Pacific.

    ScoMo is as thick as a brick : he didn’t realize how calling for the inquiry into Wuhan Lab irrevocably changes Australia-China relationship, nor did he realize how a Chinese military base in Solomon means ANZAC is finished. The best thing Australia can do is to tell Beijing to ‘fcuk off’ Solomon Islands or Australia will abandon the ‘One China’ policy and formally recognize Taiwan, while also lobbying the US to do the same.

  4. I’m totally in agreement with HnH on the Solomon’s (well lets not Bomb Honiara immediately but…)
    That said, Stan Grant, makes some worthwhile arguments that this Pacific push is just a move to distract us from China’s true sphere of influence expansion westward and through Pakistan to the Middle East.
    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-05-01/china-solomon-islands-deal-west-game-australia-looking-other-way/101021746

    Interestingly over the weekend I spoke with friend in the US military. His take is that a Chinese Naval base in the Solomon’s changes the whole dynamic of any future war with China and effectively neutralizes the Advantage the US has to date enjoyed in war games simulations.
    China’s Short / Medium range Ballistic missile capability (and numbers) are second to none so while were worried about being 2000km South of the Solomon’s, Guam is worried about being about the same distance north.
    The Dongfeng Missiles have seen enormous capability improvement with the introduction of the DF16 and DF17 (especially with hypersonic glide) , it just changes the whole dynamic of military conflict planning if China equips the Solomon islands with these missiles. Logically the US has to withdraw from Guam and stage it’s most forward forces as far back as Hawaii.
    This is why the Solomon’s agreement isn’t just about Australia, it is way more significant than just the control of the shipping lanes to Australia’s east coast we’re talking about who controls the entire Western Pacific region. (whether you can safely position aircraft carriers …and where you’re just a sitting duck)

  5. bolstroodMEMBER

    It’s all OK.
    The Scrotum will enhance the Climate Catastrophe to the extent that it will take down China… the rest of us are just collateral damage.