While bigger things have occupied the world’s attention in recent months, a couple of smaller stories have gone largely unnoticed due to their relative size but perhaps not their true importance as reflections of more prominent events. I like to find and relate these stories. This is one of them.
You will know of the Solomon Islands, a jewelled paradise set adjacent to the Coral Sea in the Idyllic South Pacific. Well, things have not been so idyllic of late in that independent Island nation, which has in the past had close ties to the US since its independence from UK rule in 1978 and as a result was one of the few nations to recognise the Taiwan government. Australia, due to its proximity to the Solomons, I suppose, and its own US relations (not to mention its feeble desire to host a mini-empire of its own, having been brought into existence as part of one), has also interests around assisting – more with words than actual deeds or money – the fledgling nation. In general, since independence the nation has enjoyed few periods of political calm, experiencing frequent changes of government interspersed by rioting and general unrest.
Against that background and with rising interest from China, with the capability and desire to offer more practical help than any other suitor, the Solomon Island government, which changed hands most recently in 2019 to be led by an old and experienced leader with several past periods in office, Manasseh Sogavare, decided to change allegiances to favour China rather than the US. As a result, the recognition of Taiwan had also to be dumped in favour of China. A smart move if ever I saw one. They won’t ever need to look back. But it wasn’t, of course, the end of their troubles. You never dump the West and get away scot-free. More rioting ensued, but of course the US cannot be seen (and probably can no longer afford) to go in there itself. So the Aussies, probably uninvited (other than by the opposition) sent a contingent of Federal Police and a small military detachment last December. I have heard no word as to what effect or none that move has had. But I remember reading recently that China has also said it will assist in a peacekeeping role in some capacity. I have heard no more of that either. But then it has been a busy time of the year and even rioters I suppose have holidays.
I am not trying to belittle this affair, I mean, it has all the ingredients to be seen as a microcosm of the wider world, does it not?
Well, to cap this off, I have a story which reveals that the Solomon Island government believes that it is the Taiwan government that is fostering the most recent riots and unrest, in a Mini-Me caricature of the geopolitical games of its US mentor – whose shadow can be seen, as always, furtively lurking in the background. How much further down the rabbit hole can this story drag us?
I suppose the Isle of Man could ditch the UK for allegiance with Russia by independently recognising Crimea as wholly Russian and the Ukraine (north and west of the Don) as a shit-hole.