A small cabinet of the new Solomon Islands’ government made the decision, without the consent of the full parliament, to switch diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China this week. This diplomatic betrayal was made in exchange for promises of cash.
Previous reporting suggested that they had been considering the switch, and had been given by the CCP a grade period to make a decision lasting until the end of September, when the PRC will celebrate the 70 year anniversary of the totalitarian state.
The Solomon Islands’ new president, Manasseh Sogavare, has been looking for ways to get quick cash, and decided, largely against the will of his own parliament and people, to compromise the moral integrity of the country in exchange for promises made by the communists for a nearly half-billion dollar cash package. Sixteen MPs cited that the move may lead to “compromised freedoms.”
What is China’s ultimate goal in this shameful and transparent attempt to buy diplomatic support? For a totalitarian state regularly and publicly abuses human rights, and publicly disdains criticism of any its own actions under an anachronistic conception of sovereignty that allows them free reign to torture, maim, and perform ethnic cleansing within its own territory while simultaneously criticizing other states such as the US, it would seem as though China is seeking international legitimacy. Their intense campaign to purge the internet of critical voices and their obsession with intellectual orthodoxy, even going so far as to extort fashion websites to end the naming of Taiwan and Hong Kong as separate entities, make this abundantly clear.
One one hand, they want to publicly delegitimize the existence of a conception of separateness between China and Taiwan. On the other, they seek to gain as many public allies as possible to throw weight behind their outrageous territorial claims. They apparently wish to justify their own actions with a veil of international public support, albeit from a cadre of some of the worst actors and most savage, barbaric, and utterly inhuman tyrants on the face of the planet. By appearing to have the support of such a large number of countries, they can use this as a moral shield to cloud their crimes.
The same is true for their strategy over Taiwan, and this is why they have publicly taken a mostly hands-off approach in dealing with protests in Hong Kong, while secretly pulling the strings of the unelected Chief Executive Carrie Lam. By appearing to be responsible and carrying an air of legitimation, they likely aim to eventually economically pressure Taiwan to accept annexation and relegation to a “one country – two systems” model, because they know they are still far too militarily weak to face the US should there be an open conflict. The reason they have thus far not used force is that China would gladly watch Hong Kong burn to the ground if they would get the prize they have wanted since they failed in 1949, Taiwan.
They seek to whittle down Taiwan’s remaining diplomatic allies firstly to demoralize the country, and eventually to delegitimize the state to the point that a desperate government will begin to lose its will to resist. This course of events is not inevitable, however, and a push to switch the diplomatic recognition for large, and politically crucial states, such as the US, Japan, or South Korea could stem this tide and reduce the reputational impacts of the betrayal of smaller countries. Taiwan could also preemptively aim to alter the status quo while China is still not in a position to use force by immediately declaring independence, effectively nullifying the eventual possibility of a willful surrender of Taiwanese sovereignty. With careful planning and diplomatic calculus, Taiwan can preserve its independence and perhaps, through the reputational consequence of failure, sow the seeds for the self-destruction of totalitarian rule in China by the CCP.
Staff writer: Ari B