US opens embassy in Solomon Islands to counter China

In this photo provided by the U.S. Embassy Honiara, Taylor Ruggles, director for the East Asia and the Pacific region of the U.S. State Department, from left, Colin Beck, permanent secretary of the Solomon Islands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, and Russell Comeau, Chargé d’Affaires ad interim of the U.S. Embassy Honiara, attend an flag raising ceremony to celebrate the opening of the embassy in Honiara of the Solomon Islands, Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023. (U.S. Embassy Honiara via AP)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — The United States opened an embassy in the Solomon Islands in its latest move to counter China’s push into the Pacific. 

The embassy in the capital, Honiara, is starting small, with a chargé d’affaires, a couple of State Department staff and a handful of local employees. The U.S. previously operated an embassy in the Solomon Islands for five years before closing it in 1993 as part of a global reduction in diplomatic posts after the end of the Cold War. 

“The opening of the embassy builds on our efforts not only to place more diplomatic personnel throughout the region, but also to engage further with our Pacific neighbors, connect United States programs and resources with needs on the ground, and build people-to-people ties,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a statement. 

The Solomon Islands switched allegiance from the self-ruled island of Taiwan to Beijing in 2019, threatening the close ties with the U.S. that date to World War II.