U.S. to reopen Embassy in Solomon Islands . . .
Last Saturday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the U.S. would reopen an embassy in Solomon Islands, the South Pacific country of about 700,000. The move is consistent with the Biden Administration’s recent Indo-Pacific Strategy update, which seeks, in large part, to limit China’s growing economic, military, and political influence across the region, including in the Pacific. The announcement comes after violent unrest in Solomon Islands late last year, inflamed by long-simmering internal ethnic tensions, unemployment, and poverty. Some observers also see China’s increasing influence in the country, exemplified by Solomons’ controversial decision to switch its diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in 2019, as a factor. The U.S. had an embassy in the country for five years before closing it in 1993.
Chinese help arrives as UN says Tonga needs more aid . . .
Geopolitical competition across much of the Pacific is further evidenced in aid being offered to Tonga in the aftermath of the massive volcanic eruption and tsunami a month ago. With the United Nations recently calling for aid to Tonga to continue, two Chinese navy ships arrived Tuesday carrying aid and relief supplies, including food, water, and prefabricated houses. An Australian navy ship that arrived last month remains in the country to deliver more aid after being resupplied with additional disaster and humanitarian relief, although it suffered an embarrassing power failure early in its deployment as well as a COVID outbreak among its crew.
French Polynesia announces marine sanctuary the size of . . . France . . .
Elsewhere in the region, the French Polynesian President, Edouard Fritch, recently announced his country would create a new marine sanctuary covering 500,000 km2 of ocean, about the size of France. The marine sanctuary, which will be known as Rahui Nui, will be created by 2030 and will protect and preserve the habitat of diverse species of marine life. The announcement, made at the One Ocean Summit in France, also included plans to establish restrictions by the end of the year that will limit fishing to sustainable traditional methods in the vicinity of over 100 islands, and the creation of compulsory anchoring zones to protect unique coral ecosystems.
- Al Jazeera: US to reopen Solomon Islands embassy amid moves to counter China
- Australian Broadcasting Corporation: Chinese navy arriving in Tonga as HMAS Adelaide continues 'tough' humanitarian deployment
- Franceinfo: One Ocean Summit : la Polynésie française s’engage à créer une aire marine protégée de 500 000 km2