'Solomons can't be overlooked,' says US House committee chair
Updated: Aug 20
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Congressional members traveled to the Solomon Islands this week, meeting with the country's officials and community leaders in yet another bid to lure the China-allied Pacific nation back on the United States' side.
"We must preserve our relationships with our friends in the Solomon Islands to ensure the Indo-Pacific remains stable and peaceful,” said Rep. Neal Dunn (R-FL), who is visiting the Pacific nation along with Rep. Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen (R-American Samoa).
Dunn and Radewagen are members of the U.S. House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party.
Dunn likened China to "a viper slithering around its prey," and "coiling around the Solomon Islands in hopes of tightening its grip on the Indo-Pacific region."
He said China's ploy is reminiscent of Imperial Japan's power play that led up to WWII.
Dunn and Radewagen visited Guadalcanal, where they laid wreaths at the American War Memorial to honor the service and sacrifice of those who fought during WWII.
"Standing at the war memorial at Guadalcanal reminded me how imperative it is that we rein in the CCP before history repeats itself," Dunn said.
In February, the United States officially opened its embassy in the Solomon Islands, whose security agreement with Beijing causes anxiety in Washington.
The U.S. shut down its embassy in the Solomon Islands in 1993, thus leaving the door open for China.
Beijing’s clout on the Solomon Islands became clear when it succeeded in luring the island nation away from Taiwan in 2019.
In 2021, the Solomon Islands signed a security agreement with China, stirring speculation that it foreshadowed the establishment of the People's Liberation Army’s presence in the Pacific island region.
“As the Chinese Communist Party seeks to export its influence across the globe, Solomon Islands cannot be overlooked," said Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), committee chair.
"The same geographic logic that etched places like Guadalcanal into the American memory still holds true today. We must work with our traditional friends in the Solomon Islands to protect our common values and ensure peace, stability, and prosperity across the Indo-Pacific," Gallagher added.
Radewagen noted that the Solomon Islands remains as strategically important as it was during World War II.
"It was a special honor to help lay a wreath at the Guadalcanal American Memorial and think of these heroes who left us a legacy of freedom that we cannot fail to uphold,” Radewagen said .
“My father, the late Peter Tali Coleman, served in these waters and islands as a young US Army officer in support of the Coastwatchers, who reported on enemy activity at great risk to their lives. Dad told us about serving aboard the USS Echo, a U.S. Navy schooner assigned to the U.S. Army, which took Coastwatchers to and from their stations. Now, 81 years later, we must remain strongly committed to the Pacific region and keep working with the Solomon Islands to preserve peace and security."