The State Department told Congress that the US plans to open an embassy in the Solomon Islands before China becomes “strongly embedded” in the South Pacific nation.
“The United States has a strategic interest in enhancing our political, economic, and commercial relationship with Solomon Islands, the largest Pacific Island nation without a US Embassy,” the State Department said in a notification that was obtained by The Associated Press.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed the plan on Saturday while in Fiji as part of a short Pacific tour that started in Australia. During his trip, the US released its new Indo-Pacific strategy that calls for opening new embassies in the region to counter Chinese influence.
The Solomon Islands used to recognize Taiwan but opened up relations with China in 2019. The State Department said the US had to open an embassy because China “aggressively seeks to engage” with politicians and business people in the Solomon Islands.
In November, the Solomon Islands was rocked by massive demonstrations and riots that were said to be partially motivated by the islands’ increasing ties with Beijing, and rioters reportedly targeted Chinese-owned businesses.