Share This Article
The Solomon Islands are denying US military vessels the ability to use the nation’s ports. The decision is unprecedented and comes as the Solomon Islands are seeking closer security cooperation with China.
A US Coast Guard vessel, the USCG Oliver Henry, attempted to dock for a “routine logistics port call” but was refused permission by the Solomon Island authorities. It is unclear on which day this occurred.
The US Coast Guard vessel was patrolling the waters in the South Pacific reportedly to counter illegal fishing activities when they attempted to pull into Honiara, the capital city. The Coast Guard said that port calls such as this one are common and normally approved.
In response, the US State Department issued a statement to the Solomon Islands saying that they expect “all future clearances will be provided to US ships.”
The denial comes during heightened tensions between the US and China over disputes concerning sovereign waters, particularly near Taiwan.
China’s influence in the countries off their coastline is growing. On April 1st, a draft security agreement between China and the Solomon Islands was leaked. China says the security pact has now been signed. The US, Australia, and New Zealand are concerned that this security cooperation will lead to Chinese bases being built in the Solomon Islands.
However, Manasseh Sogavare, the island nation’s prime minister, reassured his citizens that he would not allow Chinese bases in the country due to fears that it could make them a target “for potential military strikes.”
He also added that he is open to Chinese peacekeeping operations deploying to the islands.