People walk through the Chinatown district of Honiara in the Solomon Islands on November 26, 2021, after a third day of violence. | AFP-JIJI
By Nat Hill
Genocide Watch is issuing a Genocide Warning for the Solomon Islands due to anti-Chinese riots.
The Solomon Islands are in the South Pacific between Fiji and Papua New Guinea. Widespread political protests have been followed by violent riots, leading to the deaths of at least 3 people and arrests of over 100. The riots stem from the Solomon Islands’ 2019 recognition of the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) instead of Taiwan. Until 2019, the government of the Solomon Islands had a long-standing relationship with Taiwan. This connection weakened as trade and investment from the PRC increased.
Rioters are targeting Chinese-owned buildings and businesses in the Chinatown district of the capital, Honiara. Looting, arson, and vandalism against ethnic Chinese have been documented. Security forces seem powerless to stop the violence. Crowds have attacked government buildings, burning parts of the Parliament building, police stations, and the Prime Minister’s residence. The Solomon Islands’ government requested foreign assistance to quell the violence. Soldiers and police officers from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea have been deployed.
There have been prior instances of anti-Chinese rioting in the Solomon Islands. In 2006, following a general election, rioters attacked the Chinatown District in Honiara, burning buildings and sending many of the minority Chinese population into exile. There have also been increasing attacks against Chinese communities across the Oceania region.
Most protestors in Honiara came from the Malaita Province, the most populous province in the Solomon Islands. From 1998 to 2003, the Solomon Islands experienced a brutal period of ethnic violence, known colloquially as, “The Tensions” which pitted ethnic Malaitian migrants from the main island of Guadalcanal against the local population and government. At least 200 people were killed and thousands of Malaitians were displaced. Peace was restored only after Australia, New Zealand and a coalition of Pacific nations occupied the Islands in 2003.
Genocide Watch considers the Solomon Islands to be at Stage 1: Classification, Stage 2: Symbolization, Stage 3: Discrimination, Stage 5: Organization, and Stage 6: Polarization.
Genocide Watch Recommends:
1. Australia and allied forces should stay in the Solomon Islands to ensure the safety of the country’s Chinese citizens and to quell ethnic rioting.
2. The Pacific Islands Forum, International Monetary Fund, and the United Nations Development Fund should investigate the financial schemes of Taiwan and China in the Solomon Islands and make recommendations for future government policies.