Un-American: US Coast Guard Barred from Entry to Solomon Islands

USCG+Oliver+Henry+Entering+Port.+

U.S. Indo-Pacific Command

USCG Oliver Henry Entering Port.

Max Schwartzman, Editor-in-chief

In the Pacific Island nation of the Solomon Islands, a United States Coast Guard Cutter was prohibited from docking with experts citing Chinese influence as a primary cause. 

The US Coast Guard Cutter Oliver Henry (pictured above) was forced to divert to Papua New Guinea to resupply, as it had initially tried to do in the Solomon Islands. 

This comes as Chinese influence throughout the Pacific rapidly increases, with the Solomon Islands being at the forefront of this expansion. According to the Brookings Institute, 46% of imports and exports from the Solomon Islands are Chinese. 

In response to this incident, the Coast Guard said that they “respect the sovereignty of [their] foreign partners,” Coast Guard spokesman Commander Dave Milne told Axios, and is looking toward “future engagement opportunities with the Solomon Islands.”

The refusal for entry comes after years of strong relations between the United States and the Solomon Islands, which according to the State Department has been a partner with the US since the end of the Second World War. Additionally, it was noted that the United States Coast Guard has long been engaged with the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force, in addition to regular assistance to the Solomon Islands border protection officers. 

John Kirby, the National Security Council’s spokesman told reporters during a press conference that “Clearly we’ve seen the Chinese try to bully and coerce nations throughout the Indo-Pacific to do their bidding and to serve what they believe their selfish national security interests are rather than the broader interests of a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

The Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands, Manasseh Sogavare, issued a statement claiming that “the delay in these [port entry] approvals demonstrate the need for the government to review and refine its approval requirements and procedures for visiting military vessels to Solomon Island.”

The Embassy of the Solomon Islands to the United Nations did not respond to requests for comment by The Bobcat Prowl. 

As the United States and China compete more and more for influence, small nations like the Solomon Islands are increasingly caught up in the cross hairs.