- Security pact with Solomon Islands causes unrest
- Turning back on the US: ASEAN rejects Russia sanctions
- Lockdown and Ukraine war intensify economic fears
- Gasoline and diesel prices will increase
- Party chief of Hubei resigns
- Johnny Erling on Mao’s historic sparrow hunt
- Profile of detained journalist Cheng Lei
Many Western media – including the public – enjoy the narrative of a united global alliance against a cornered Putin. But even if Japan, the traditional ally of the US in Asia, joins in, the anti-Russia alliance still does not span the globe as fully as the picture suggests. Not the entire South and Southeast of Asia are on board. Above all, the ten members of ASEAN are unwilling to side with the United States, writes Frank Sieren. They consider their economic relations with China far too important.
Indeed, the statements of Southeast Asian leaders on the Ukraine crisis have tended to echo Beijing’s rhetoric. This is also remarkable because many of these countries are locking horns with China over maritime territories. The navy of the People’s Republic seizes disputed South Sea islands faster than ever before, analyzes Christiane Kuehl. And yet, Beijing gains new allies in the Pacific. The Solomon Islands have now turned their backs on Taiwan and signed a security treaty with China. All this to the displeasure of US President Joe Biden, who finds far fewer allies for his policies in Asia than he had hoped.
The lockdown in Shanghai will continue to be an important topic for us. Especially since it is the harbinger of a long series of curfews. Omicron can only be contained with severe measures. Since the zero-covid policy has become a government doctrine, it cannot be relaxed – especially since China’s healthcare system would quickly become overwhelmed by an exponential growth of infections. Meanwhile, disruptions in production have begun to show. Surveys by the Chamber of Commerce and the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics unanimously report an anxious mood among companies. Omicron in Asia and the war in Europe are blending into a vicious storm for the economy.
The military absorbs South Seas paradises
The Solomon Islands only have a population of around 700,000 and are located far out in the Pacific, just under 2,000 kilometers northeast of Australia. As remote as it may sound, the island nation has allowed itself to be drawn into the middle of an international conflict. It has signed a security framework agreement with China, as the government in Honiara announced on Thursday. A previously available draft envisaged, for example, that “China may, according to its own needs and with the consent of the Solomon Islands, make ship visits to, carry out logistical replenishment in, and have stopover and transition in Solomon Islands”.
The prospect of Chinese naval vessels sailing in the Pacific immediately had regional top dogs and US allies Australia and New Zealand scrambling. The agreement would risk “potential militarization of the region,” New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday. Similar comments were heard from Canberra.
The Solomon Islands and China rejected the criticism. “It is clear we need to diversify the country’s relationship with other partners. What is wrong with that?” said Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare on Tuesday. He added that there was “no intention whatsoever to ask China to build a military base in the Solomon Islands.” Nothing would change in the existing partnership with Australia. China’s foreign office spokesman Wang Wenbin said Australia’s indications were deliberately aimed at creating tension.