Solomon Islands Ousts Provincial Governor Who Objected To Chinese Encroachment

Photo by CHARLEY PIRINGI/AFP via Getty Images

James Lynch Investigative Reporter
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A provincial governor in the Solomon Islands has been ousted by his legislature for criticizing the country’s growing relationship with China.

The legislature removed David Suidani, premier of Solomon Islands’ Malaita province, in an unanimous no-confidence vote Tuesday, Reuters reported. Suidani banned Chinese companies from operating in Malaita and fostered a close relationship with Taiwan, a former ally of the Solomon Islands. (RELATED: Here’s How Much US Farmland Has Been Bought Up By China)

Protests broke out after the no-confidence vote and led to protesters throwing stones at police officers. Police responded with tear gas and one officer was injured. The protests fizzled out and were not widespread, The Guardian reported.

Suidani unsuccessfully challenged the vote’s legality in high court and boycotted the proceedings. He was accused of financial mismanagement, using public funds to pay his security guards and soliciting money from a Chinese mining company.

He has feuded with Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare about shifting diplomatic ties to China, a decision known as “the switch,” according to Al Jazeera. Activists in Malaita opposed Sogavare’s 2019 decision to recognize China instead of Taiwan and abide by a “One China” policy.

The switch is unpopular among Solomon Islanders who believe it has been motivated by corruption. They worry about forging close economic ties with China and differences in values between the two countries. The Solomon Islands is a Christian, democratic nation, unlike the authoritarian rule by Chinese Communist Party.

The two nations signed a security agreement in May 2022 deepening ties and potentially opening the door to a Chinese military base on the Solomon Islands. Beijing reportedly sent police, military personnel and other forces to maintain order and protect Chinese equipment.