Explained | Why has the China-Solomon Islands deal become the latest flashpoint between China and the U.S.?

What is the News?

China’s government has signed a security deal with the Solomon Islands. 

What does the China-Solomon Islands security deal contain?

Firstly, it says that the Solomon Islands may request China to send police, armed police, military personnel and other law enforcement to the Solomon Islands. This is to assist the island in maintaining social order, protecting people’s lives and property or providing assistance on other tasks agreed upon by the parties.

Secondly, it allows China with the consent of the Solomon Islands to make ship visits, carry out logistical replenishment and have stopovers in the Solomon Islands.

What is the significance of this deal?

The Solomon Islands has great strategic significance as was evident during World War II (WW II). During World War II, it served as a bulwark for Australia against the advancing Japanese.

The Solomon Islands also sits on critical shipping routes, meaning China could potentially control maritime traffic in and around the region.

What are the concerns raised by other countries?

Officials from the United States, Australia, Japan and New Zealand expressed concerns about the proposed security framework. They fear that the agreement could open the door to a Chinese naval base in the country and hence pose serious risks to a free and open Indo-Pacific.

How will this deal impact India?

The China-Solomon Islands pact does not directly affect India. The islands are at a significant distance from mainland India and even the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. However, China’s advances in the region will be a cause for concern even in India

What is Solomon Islands?
Source: Britannica

The Solomons are an archipelago of hundreds of small islands in the southern part of the Pacific Ocean. It is located approximately 2,000 km from Australia.

There are six big islands – the largest, Guadalcanal, is home to the capital Honiara. The others are New Georgia, Santa Isabel, Choiseul, Malaita, and San Cristobal. 

The island in particular has significant reserves of timber and mineral resources, along with fisheries.

Source: This post is based on the article “Explained | Why has the China-Solomon Islands deal become the latest flashpoint between China and the U.S.?” published in The Hindu on 24th April 2022

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