Divided Isles

Solomon Islands and the China Switch

Author:
Edward Acton Cavanough
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This book tells the story of Solomon Islands’ China Switch, its dramatic internal and regional consequences, the political machinations that led to it, and how a handful of Solomon Islanders have used this transformative, once-in-a-generation political event to accrue and wield political power. It is the story of Manasseh Sogavare and his fateful decision to accept the Switch to China, and how it transformed the country. It is the story of Daniel Suidani, and how his manipulation of the Switch thrust him from obscurity to global relevance. Solomon Islands is also the story of the Malaitan activists who have leveraged this political shift to revive a volatile, albeit improbable, quest for independence for their island. It relates how a byzantine web of Pacific business elites changed the political course of their nation in pursuit of commercial gain. And it is the story of how seemingly powerless islanders have the capacity to radically alter the trajectory of a fragile country and a region essential to Australia’s, and the world’s, security. The Solomon Archipelago is a place of joy and beauty. At the same time, it is host to centuries of grievance and tragedy. Enmities fuelled by ancient internal rivalries, colonial dispossession and exploitation, inadequate reconstruction after the Second World War, uneven economic growth since independence in 1978, and the ethnic tensions that gripped the country between 1998 and 2003 undergird cultural, economic and political discourse in contemporary Solomon Islands.

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