Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo opined on the current U.S. position following the Solomon Islands–China agreement signing. He stated on April 22, “It doesn’t seem like we really stood up for the things that matter most to the United States,” according to Fox News.
Pompeo said China does not respect the United States because it ignores the Biden administration and continues with its plans to militarize the Solomon Islands.
“I don’t think they respect or fear the United States under the leadership of President Biden,” Pompeo replied.
The former secretary of state noted that the agreement between China and the Solomon Islands is a geopolitically vital region because it is close to Australia and New Zealand and the U.S. territories of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands and not far from Hawaii.
He further explained that China quickly advanced its plans by militarizing the China Sea Islands during the Obama presidency. The agreement with the island nation would allow them to “park” their missile systems and “foreclose” regional trade involving the U.S. and its allies.
“That’s why China is so focused on that.”
In that regard, U.S. Indo-Pacific commander Adm. John C. Aquilino told AP on March 22 that China became a threat to all nations operating near the South China Sea Islands by establishing military bases with anti-ship and anti-aircraft missile systems, laser and jamming equipment and fighter jets.
“I think over the past 20 years we’ve witnessed the largest military buildup since World War II by the PRC,” Aquilino told The Associated Press in an interview, using the initials of China’s formal name. “They have advanced all their capabilities and that buildup of weaponization is destabilizing to the region.”
Meanwhile, a U.S. delegation led by Kurt Campbell, Indo-Pacific coordinator of the National Security Council, and Daniel Kritenbrink, undersecretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, arrived in the Solomon Islands on April 22. According to AP, their mission was to alert Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare on how harmful it would be for the region if China were to establish a military base there. However, Sogavare went ahead and signed the agreement with China.
During the visit, U.S. officials discussed plans to reopen an embassy in the capital, Honiara, which has been closed since 1993, as a strategy to increase their presence in the island nation.