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Current Affairs

Solomon Islands unrest

Date: 29 November 2021 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Arson and looting is taking place in Honiara, the capital of Solomon Islands for its decision to shift diplomatic allegiance to China.

 

Background

Solomon Islands is one among the few countries that maintained diplomatic relations with Taiwan till 2019.

 

Details

  • The protestors are demanding for the resignation of the Prime Minister. Australian troops and police forces are helping local police restore peace and order.

  • Solomon Islands is a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as the head of state. Before independence it was known as British Solomon Islands Protectorate.

 

History

  • The islands were part of World War II, with Battle of Guadalcanal taking place between allied and axial forces.

  • The citizens belong to various races such as Melanesians, Micronesians, Polynesians, Chinese and also Europeans.

  • Ethnic tensions started when inhabitants of Malaita Island started settling in Guadalcanal and Honiara parts.

 

Instability

  • Guadalcanal islanders, known as Guales, started a campaign to drive out Malaitans off the island in the 90s.

  • Malaitans formed the Malaita Eagle Force militia to protect against the offence. The government had to impose emergency.

 

China’s role in unrest

  • The government has showed allegiance to mainland China whereas the Malaitans are in favour of maintaining relations with Taiwan.

  • In recent times, China is seen using force and economic powers to persuade smaller nations to break away from Taiwan.

 

Other reasons

The underlying reasons are the ethnic divide among islanders. There is disparity in equitable sharing of resources. Widespread unemployment and poverty have increased the gap.

 

Way ahead

  • There has to be seen if switching to China will bear any economic benefits. There is resentment against Chinese business in the country.

  • Australia is the net security provider for Solomon Islands through a treaty known as Regional Assurance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI).

  • During the civil war, the rapid deployment of RAMSI prevented the country from collapsing and becoming a failed state.