Concerns about China’s expanding influence in the region were raised after a United States Coast Guard cutter conducting patrols on an international assignment in the Pacific Ocean was refused admission to a port in the Solomon Islands.
China is gaining ground in its efforts to gain dominance in the Pacific – “Solomon Islands denies port call for Guam-based US Coast Guard cutter” https://t.co/1W4r5DmSDq— James Hutton (@JEHutton) August 27, 2022
The cutter Oliver Henry attempted to make a scheduled stop in Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, to refuel and restock while it was participating in Operation Island Chief, which monitored fishing activity in the Pacific and ended on Friday.
The Oliver Henry, however, made a detour to Papua New Guinea, according to the Coast Guard, when the government of the Solomon Islands failed to respond to requests for diplomatic authorization for the ship to stay there.
It was also claimed that a British warship was turned away, however the British Royal Navy hasn’t officially responded to such accusations.
The United States, Australia, Britain, and New Zealand supported the Pacific island countries taking part in Operation Island Chief by providing aircraft and surface surveillance, including the Solomon Islands.
China has been adamantly seeking to increase its presence and influence in the Pacific, and after signing a new security agreement with China, Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare concerned certain neighbors, the United States, and others.
The agreement has sparked worries that China may build a naval station not more than 2,000 kilometers from Australia’s northeast coast. A Chinese military presence in the Solomon Islands would put it near to Guam, the U.S. territory that is home to significant military installations, as well as Australia, New Zealand, and the Solomon Islands themselves.
An inquiry for comment was not immediately answered by the White House.