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China leases an entire island in Pacific from Solomon Islands, will also use surrounding islands

Beijing: China has gained possession of the Tulagi Island, which was a part of the land battle in the Pacific during the World War II. The island-nation forms a part of the Solomon Islands on which a deal was signed a month ago. As part of the deal, the Solomon Islands have leased the island and other nearby islands to a Chinese company named China Sam. The Island had maintained political ties with Taiwan for the past few decades but broke them off last month and allied with Beijing. 

In the last few years, China has made aggressive moves to expand its influence not just in the Indo-Pacific but the entire Pacific region. Also, China has begun harboring its economic power for the purpose. Various reports revealed that China had supplied financial aid and loans worth $20 billion to about eight island-nations in the Pacific region. A few months ago, the US Ambassador to Australia had warned against China, which has adopted the policy of an insecure debt trap for the nations in the Pacific.  

The United States formed an alliance with Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and India to counter Chinese aggression and curb the nation’s race for dominance. Australia, Japan and the US have formed independent systems to assist the nations in the Pacific as also a provision with a financial aid of $10 billion. Additionally, New Zealand announced the Pacific Reset policy last year with an added financial provision of 500 million for the Pacific nations. The Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison also declared aid of 250 million during his visit to Solomon Islands four months ago.  

Given the developments, Solomon Islands’ decision to break off ties with Taiwan and sign an accord with China making the offering of the Island-nation, is startling. China’s control over the Solomon Islands, which forms a part of the strategically located Pacific, has added to Australia’s growing concerns over the region. At one point in time, the Tulagi Island was recognized as a Japanese Naval base. Even though China has taken possession of the Island for oil refining facilities, the possibility of China using it as only a military base, cannot be denied. The presence of a deep-sea port on the Island, which is essential for a military base, further strengthens the claim.  

Only last month, China had reportedly taken control of a Cambodian seaport in the South China Sea. The reports affirmed the use of the port as a Chinese naval base. Furthermore, China and Cambodia had jointly released pictures of their warships. Moreover, China’s control over the Solomon Islands right after that, has substantiated the countries’ military ambitions. 

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