Wed, Oct 02, 2019 - Page 8 News List

Let’s turn a crisis into a positive

By Shawn Chen 陳尚勇

The Solomon Islands’ ruling Democratic Coalition Government for Advancement held a caucus meeting on Sept. 16 and, according to local media reports, 27 of the 33 people at the meeting voted in favor of switching diplomatic ties to China, with six abstentions.

So none of the participants supported maintaining formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

That same day, Taiwan severed ties with the Honiara government and on Sept. 21, the Solomon Islands established diplomatic relations with China.

The continuous expansion of China’s predatory economics and debt-trap diplomacy in the Pacific region has in practice damaged the regional stability of the Indo-Pacific, where 11 South Pacific island nations have accumulated more than US$1.3 billion of loans and debts to China over the past decade.

These nations are essential for the intactness and safety of the second island chain, which stretches from Japan, Guam, Micronesia and the Solomon Islands to the Marshall Islands. These countries also play a crucial role in national security on Australia’s north coast.

As early as in 2016, US Army Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Matelski — then a US Army War College fellow at the US Department of Defense’s Hawaii-based Daniel K. Inouye Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies — wrote in an opinion piece in The Diplomat online magazine, entitled “America’s Micronesia Problem,” that China has been providing the Federated States of Micronesia with investments and technologies for infrastructure, land reclamation and artificial islands since 2003.

Apparently, China’s ultimate purpose is to seek the establishment of military installations in Micronesia to deter US armed forces in the Pacific from conducting military operations in the East China Sea and the South China Sea.

China might also emulate the US military on Guam by turning a Micronesian military base into a takeoff and landing facility, and an air base for Xian H-6 bombers conducting far seas missions.

Functioning as a stepping stone on the second island chain for China to cut off US military power in the Asia-Pacific region, Beijing’s potential military installations in Micronesia pose a threat not only to the US’ military command on Guam, but also to Taiwan’s national security.

Moreover, it would have an deterring effect on US forces when evaluating whether to come to Taiwan’s defense if war breaks out.

In the latest version of the US’ Indo-Pacific Strategy, proactive implementation of a comprehensive check-and-balance strategy has replaced “engagement for purposes of regulation” as the US’ new China policy, which aims to deter, or contain, China’s expansion in the region.

The US is set to contain and hold China in check through three “P’s” — “promoting” a networked region, which serves as the foundation for the enhancement of its own “preparedness” and the formation of stronger “partnerships” with foreign alliances.

At a Aug. 4 news conference in Sydney in connection to the “two plus two” Australia – US Ministerial Consultations, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the two countries would “do much more together” to safeguard the safety of the Indo-Pacific region, and this US-Australian partnership will be “grounded in [the] shared values of democracy, the rule of law and human rights.”

Pompeo also said that “the United States is a Pacific nation. We care deeply about what happens here and we’re here to stay, and we want all Australians to know they can always rely on the United States of America.”

This story has been viewed 1760 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top