Edward Acton Cavanough
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Ten months after the smoke had settled in Honiara, martial arts expert Wanghu was putting his class through its paces in Buala village, on the north coast of Santa Isabel Island. Over several days in October 2022, Wanghu led a group of forty young girls and boys from Buala through a kung-fu course, teaching them basic self-defence skills. He was a representative of the China Police Liaison Unit (CPLU), who had been making global headlines since their arrival in Solomon Islands in early 2022. For the most part, foreign observers framed Sogavare’s determination to establish the security pact with Beijing as part of a grand geopolitical struggle between East and West. Sogavare’s security partnership with China had also tempered the likelihood of widespread unrest in the future. The Solomon Islands community may have been sceptical of China, but many also feared its brutality, especially the Chinese style of policing.

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Divided Isles

Solomon Islands and the China Switch


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