Bishop concerned about China military presence in Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands and China

Bishop Luciano Capelli of Gizo, the Solomon Islands’ second-largest city, has expressed concern over his country’s ability to remain independent, with China investing heavily in the island nation.

Capelli says many Islanders see China as a liberator when it offers to bring a certain degree of development. The nation lacks hospitals, infrastructure and airports.

However, what is certain is that there will be debts because Honiara, the capital city, will be asked to pay. It is just not known when.

“In the 23 years that I have been here, I have not seen any interest on the part of the United States. It has not even de-mined an airport runway. Half of it is still unusable because of their bombs dropped against the Japanese during World War II,” comments Capelli.

The Bishop of Gizo continues to explain the local situation: “Guadalcanal, for example, the largest island, does not have a regional hospital, but only the national one, where all the patients sent from other regions arrive”.

As a direct result, “when any ‘China’ comes to build us a hospital, it will always be welcomed as a liberator”.

China has recently provided military support at the request of Honiara after the Solomon Islands police force struggled to contain anti-government riots in the capital’s Chinatown in November.

“China’s military presence on the Solomon Islands will be maintained under the supervision of local authorities”, announced the ambassador of the Solomon Islands in Australia yesterday.

Ambassador Robert Sisilo wanted to reassure Western public opinion that the Chinese security forces will not use the same repressive techniques seen in Hong Kong.

However, these reassurances have failed to convince Australia and New Zealand. They have opposed the security pact signed in recent weeks between Honiara and Beijing.

It is unclear what percentage of the population opposes or favours these new security agreements. The Churches, says Capelli, are now “silent.”

President Joe Biden’s Indo-Pacific coordinator Kurt Campbell said, “I would say that the most important element going forward is that the United States has to step up its game across the board, and we’ve been encouraged strongly to do that by our Australian friends.”


Asia News

Sydney Morning Herald

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News category: World.

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