The announcement of a new security agreement between the Solomon Islands and China has set off alarm bells in Australia’s ruling circles. The deal would reduce the Solomon Islands government’s reliance on Australia for domestic security and strengthen its relationship with China—a clear challenge to Australian and US dominance in the Pacific.
Two years ago, Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare backed away from the country’s historic ties with Taiwan to establish diplomatic links with China, Australia’s major rival in the South Pacific. Last month, after anti-government protests and rioting in the capital, Honiara, Sogavare was forced to call on Canberra to save his skin. Within hours, the Australian Defence Force and the Australian Federal Police were on their way to the Solomons.
Indian indentured slavery should be remembered as one of British and Australian capitalism’s historical atrocities. The indenture system, as it is commonly called, existed between 1834 and 1920, during which time about 2 million Indians were transported to 19 colonies across the British empire, and to some French and Dutch territories. More than 400,000 were taken to both Mauritius and Malaysia, 240,000 to what was then British Guiana, 150,000 to Natal (now part of South Africa), 145,000 to Trinidad and Tobago and more than 60,000 to Fiji.
The COVID-19 crisis has given the “Pacific Step Up” – a strategy for curtailing China’s growing influence in the region by strengthening Australian diplomatic, cultural, economic and military ties with Pacific island nations – a new relevance. “If we do not make the ‘Pacific Step Up’ a ‘Covid-19 Step Up’”, Labor’s shadow minister for international development argued in the Guardian recently, “our Pacific friends will look to other nations to assist them in their time of crisis”.
Socialist Alternative’s Socialism conference, held at the University of Sydney over the weekend 18-20 August, attracted more than 500 participants.
Students and staff at the Sydney College of the Arts have rejected plans by the University of Sydney to shut down their campus. A “Let SCA Stay” campaign was initiated by more than 200 staff and students at a meeting on 24 June. Its central, non-negotiable demand is halting the campus closure.