Wednesday 25 May 2022 | 13:42 | SYDNEY
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Pacific Islands

PNG and the Solomon Islands-China security agreement

Reactions to the security agreement between Solomon Islands and China were swift and relentless. Much of the rhetoric is creating needless anxieties. It demonstrates that an unwritten rule exists in the practice of Pacific diplomacy. Supposedly sovereign Pacific states must choose wisely who they do

Chinese bases in the Pacific: A reality check

There was barely concealed panic in Australia when news broke that China had struck a security agreement with Solomon Islands. What if this is really a basing deal that allows China to station military aircraft or warships permanently? Solomons Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare’s emphatic denial on

Fixing Australia’s failing Pacific Step-up strategy

Publicly, Australia’s Pacific Step-up aims to win friends and influence people. Behind this facade however, a core purpose is to make sure the Pacific Islands don’t embrace China, just as Solomon Islands’ Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has done. This clear failure may suggest abandoning

Solomons security pact: Sogavare, China, and Australia

Labor has described Solomon Islands’ security pact with China as Australia’s biggest foreign policy failure in the Pacific since the Second World War, but this is hyperbole. Australia’s biggest foreign policy failure in the region – ever – is its failure to address (at both a national and

Economic diplomacy: Priorities shift amid a budget aid boost

Back to the future The Morrison government gave the development aid sector an unexpected surprise with a budget spending increase mostly in the Pacific, just as the latest crisis in Solomon Islands was occurring. There is still plenty of grumbling that this – perhaps parting gift given the

Changing our view of Pacific visas

Much to the disappointment of Agricultural Minister David Littleproud, in February the Australian Agricultural Visa (“Ag Visa”) was reportedly rejected by Thailand, Philippines, and Vietnam. These were three of the four nations invited to join the scheme (Indonesia, which expressed interest,

PNG’s 2022 election takes shape

In June, five million voters will go to the polls in Papua New Guinea’s elections. Despite many challenges facing the nation – spanning the economy to the environment – none of these are likely to feature in people’s minds as they cast their ballot. Local first Parochial issues tend to

Kick-starting America’s Pacific diplomacy

Antony Blinken’s visit to Fiji on Saturday will be the first by a US Secretary of State to the island nation in 37 years. The timing of this trip is not the most convenient for the region. While Blinken has invited leaders of neighbouring Pacific states to Fiji to participate in his visit, it is

Bitcoin vs the IMF, and other great expectations

Digital divide El Salvador ranks only 89th on the latest index of cryptocurrency adoption around the world, but it may be at the frontline of one of the fascinating global financial questions this year. Will it be nervous investors or nervous financial regulators that play the key role in

Solomon Islands: cops bearing gifts

The pre-Christmas announcement that Solomon Islands’ government was going to accept China’s offer of six police advisers and a swag of emergency riot equipment generated consternation in Canberra. The ABC’s Andrew Greene reported discomfit from his “defence and diplomatic” sources. The

The power of mercy and the death penalty in PNG

In late 2021, thirty years since the death penalty was reinstated as an amendment to the Criminal Code Act 1974 for the crime of willful murder, the Papua New Guinean Department of Justice and Attorney General (DJAG) formally announced the establishment of the Advisory Committee on the Power of

Showcasing PNG, beyond expos and summits

In June this year, officials announced Papua New Guinea’s participation in the delayed Expo 2020 in Dubai. The PNG delegation, headed by the Department of Foreign Affairs (PNGDFA), requested government support, arguing that the event is an investment in promoting PNG. In recent decades, PNG has

Solomons strife demands a development re-think

As Australian personnel patrolled the streets of Honiara, Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare this month successfully fended off an attempt to oust him. The failed vote of no confidence came after violent anti-government protests that followed two years of tensions between Sogavare and

Solomon Islands – where world news is all local

Did you notice anything different about the news coverage of the recent unrest in Honiara? Those fast-breaking stories on Australia’s TV, radio and online networks were not presented by Australian journalists but by Solomon Islanders professionally reporting from the front lines of the riots.

Honiara as the smoke subsides

This morning the 36-hour lockdown imposed after rioting struck Honiara in Solomon Islands has lifted. The scene is a sorry one, buildings burned, debris on the main road, shops looted and exhausted police making way to work with the Australian Defence Force, which arrived last night. Unfortunately

Dark days for Honiara in the shadow of geopolitics

An uneasy calm has settled over the Solomon Islands capital Honiara after protests outside the national parliament on Wednesday calling for Prime Minister Sogavare’s resignation descended into civil unrest. A building inside the parliamentary compound and a police station were set alight amid

Forecasting vaccination in the Pacific

While Australia reopens to the world, its Pacific neighbours continue to face the dire consequences of the pandemic. Despite a guaranteed flow of vaccines thanks in large part to Australia, widespread coverage for some Pacific nations is far from reach. Early in the crisis, Pacific countries were

Palau faces the dragon

In 2015, tourism officials from the tiny Micronesian island nation of Palau likely scratched their heads in bewilderment at incoming figures on visitor arrivals. A record number of tourists had touched down that year in the archipelago, but more perplexing was the figure of 91,174 visitors from

Economic diplomacy: Remaking the Pacific house

Under construction After Build Back Better World (B3W), the Blue Dot Network and the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific (AIFFP), the latest entrant on the acronym-strewn path to a renovated region is disarmingly bland. Infrastructure ++ is the leitmotif from a quietly

The Indo-Pacific Operating System: How can America shore up the regional order?

Five essays from experts from, or based in, Southeast Asia provide a sense of the region’s complexity and the nuance with which any effort to shore up – or rebuild – regional order must grapple