Solomon Islands. An oil tanker was on the ground outside
the Solomon Islands at the beginning of the year, and
UNESCO's world heritage site on the coral island of Rennell
was threatened by a large oil spill of 80 tons. The
government asked for help from Australia to prevent an
additional 600 tonnes of oil leakage.
CountryAAH, UNESCO had previously warned that the island was
threatened by logging and timber exports to China. Later in
the year, a new environmental disaster occurred when about
5,000 tonnes of bauxite from the island's mine landed in the
sea and colored the sea red. The population was warned to
eat fish, but many had no alternative food.
Two-thirds of the country's exports go to China, and
before the April parliamentary elections it was discussed to
break with Taiwan and instead establish diplomatic relations
In the election, more than two-thirds of Parliament's
members were replaced. The new Democratic Party won the
election with just over 13% of the vote and eight seats.
Seven other parties split on 21 seats, and the other 21
seats went to independent candidates. Former Deputy Prime
Minister Manasseh Sogavare was supported by 34 members and
was appointed as head of government for the fourth time.
Sogavare had been suspected of bribery, and the choice of
him triggered riots. About 50 people were arrested by
Sogavare's new government wanted to break with Taiwan in
favor of China. It worried Australia, whose prime minister
came to the capital Honiara for talks. The United States
also tried to influence to curb China's influence.
However, Sogavare explained that China's resources for
infrastructure investment were greater than Taiwan's, and in
September Parliament voted through the Solomon Islands'
break with Taiwan in favor of China. This led to reactions
in the realm, where increased immigration and investment
from China were met by protests earlier. Asian companies
dominate timber exports, mining, fishing and trade in
US Vice President Mike Pence canceled a planned meeting
with Sogavare. The US also threatened to reconsider its
assistance to the Solomon Islands. But Australia promised to
help strengthen the border's border control and underlined
the importance of the two countries' cooperation.
Sogavare visited Beijing in October and signed several
cooperation agreements. Secretly, a state-owned Chinese
company had also signed an agreement with a provincial
government in the Solomon Islands to lease the small island
of Tulagi for 75 years. The plan was to build, among other
things, an airport and port, which could become a naval
base. It triggered reactions from both locals and the
government as well as the great power of the US. The
Sogavare government declared the agreement illegal.