U.S. Coast Guard cutter denied entry into Solomon Islands port as China’s influence in region grows

A U.S. Coast Guard cutter was forced to divert to Papua New Guinea for a routine port of call after the  Solomon Islands government failed to respond to a refuel and provision request, raising red flags over China’s growing influence in the Pacific region.

The USCGC Oliver Henry was, with assistance from participating in Operation Island Chief, monitoring for illegal fishing activities in the South Pacific, when it attempted to make a scheduled stop to refuel in Solomon Islands’ capital at Honiara, according to an emailed statement from a U.S. Coast Guard press officer to Reuters. Honiara is on the island of Guadalcanal, where 1,600 Americans died while fighting the Japanese, with many more succumbing to malaria and other tropical diseases. Another 4,200 were wounded.

In May, the Solomon Islands struck a security pact with China, straining its relationship with the United States and its other allies.

Reports on social media suggest the HMS Spey, a British navy patrol vessel that was also taking part in Operation Island Chief in the economic exclusion zones of Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu, was similarly denied access to Solomon’s port, though the British navy has declined to comment.

“Ships’ programmes are under constant review, and it is routine practice for them to change,” a Royal Navy spokesman told Reuters in an emailed statement. “For reasons of operational security we do not discuss details.”

According to Kristin Kam, public affairs officer for the U.S. Coast Guard in Hawaii, “The Government of the Solomon Islands did not respond to the U.S. Government’s request for diplomatic clearance for the vessel to refuel and provision in Honiara. The U.S. Department of State is in contact with the Government of the Solomon Islands and expect all future clearances will be provided to U.S. ships.”

Located 1,200 miles off Australia’s northeast coast, Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare sparked concerns Down Under that China would establish a naval base in Australia’s and New Zealand’s backyard. Even more concerning is the Solomon’s proximity to the U.S. territory of Guam, where major military bases reside, Fox News reports.

On Twitter, analysts see the Oliver Henry’s rejection as proof that China’s influence in the region is growing.

“China is gaining ground in its efforts to gain dominance in the Pacific,” stated former United States Department of Veterans Affairs Assistant Secretary James Hutton.

Gordon Chang, author of The Coming Collapse of China and The Great U.S.-China Tech War, took the warning to the next level, declaring, “#China is now running the #SolomonIslands.”

Lou Dobbs laid the blame for the recent development at President Joe Biden’s feet.

“Biden Regime had warning, and didn’t react,” he tweeted, “almost as if this puppet President is compromised by CCP.”

And supply chain pro David Spaulding said, “The liabilities of this administration grow more serious daily.”

The White House did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.

 

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