Communist China Beats Biden in Pacific Competition over Strategic Solomon Islands Base

US Navy / Public Domain

ANALYSIS – As I have written  here and here, Communist China has just signed a new security pact with longtime American ally in the South Pacific, the Solomon Islands, giving it a beachhead for expanded naval operations across the Pacific.

The site of a major WWII naval battle, the Solomon Islands is strategically located on the doorstep of Australia and New Zealand.

This new Chinese deal potentially also places Chinese military assets far nearer to Guam, with its strategic U.S. military bases in the Western Pacific, than ever before.

And despite its significance and President Biden’s frenzied last minute diplomatic efforts, he proved powerless to stop it.

As Politico’s China Watcher newsletter notes:

A furious, late effort by the Biden administration to pry the Solomon Islands away from a deal with China was in vain. That failure is heaping pressure on the White House to make sure more dominoes don’t fall.  

It adds:

The agreement — sealed despite objections from the U.S., Australia, Japan and New Zealand — constitutes a rebuke of U.S. diplomatic disengagement with Oceania in recent decades that has created an opportunity for China to boost its influence in the region.

The strategic value of this victory for China cannot be underestimated. Derek Grossman, senior defense analyst at the RAND Corporation notes in Politico:

The Chinese are students of history … and trying to prevent us from using any second island chain against them. For them to be able to use it first against us is at the forefront of their minds when it comes to Oceania.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price echoed that sentiment when he said Monday: “We believe that signing such an agreement could increase destabilization within the Solomon Islands and will set a concerning precedent for the wider Pacific Island region.”

But there were blunter assessments on Capitol Hill with Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) saying:

Given the islands’ strategic location, the [Chinese Communist Party] obviously wants to use the Solomons as a strategic asset to upend the military stability of the Indo-Pacific.

And the timing of Solomon Islands’ signing of the deal by controversial Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare was a slap in the face to Biden as he preempted a visit by Biden emissaries.

As China Watch reports:

Solomon Islands opposition leader Matthew Wale said the government accelerated the agreement’s signing prior to the arrival in Solomon Islands this week of a U.S. government delegation led by Kurt Campbell, the National Security Council’s Indo-Pacific coordinator, and Daniel Kritenbrink, assistant secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

To embarrass Biden even more, Politico reports:

China’s Foreign Ministry rubbed salt in the wound over the tardy diplomatic pile-on. “Several senior US officials now fancy a visit to some [Pacific island countries] all of a sudden after all these years … do they have ulterior motives?” spokesperson Wang Wenbin said Tuesday.

Along with Biden’s disastrous defense budget that utterly fails to upgrade the U.S. Navy to face China’s mushrooming fleet, Biden’s inaction in the face of China’s growing network of ‘bases’ is creating a fatal mix of dangers for America that may be exploding sooner rather than later. ADN

Paul Crespo is the Managing Editor of American Defense News. A defense and national security expert, he served as a Marine Corps officer and as a military attaché with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) at US embassies worldwide. Paul holds degrees from Georgetown, London, and Cambridge Universities. He is also CEO of SPECTRE Global Risk, a security advisory firm, and President of the Center for American Defense Studies, a national security think tank. - paulcrespo.substack.com - PAULCRESPO.COM

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