DailySA: China expands military into Solomon Islands – Forward Observer

DailySA: China expands military into Solomon Islands

Good morning. Here’s your Daily Situational Awareness for Friday, 25 March 2022. You can receive this daily briefing by signing up at https://forwardobserver.com/daily-sa

TODAY’S BRIEFING:

  • China expands military into Solomon Islands
  • NORTHCOM ‘Very Concerned’ with N. Korea ICBM improvements
  • U.S. issues new sanctions on Russia
  • Senator warns of migrant wave
  • Ecuador partnership
  • Hazards Warning

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SITUATIONAL AWARENESS

CHINA EXPANDS MILITARY INTO SOLOMON ISLANDS: Leaked documents made available today by Australia’s Defense Minister indicate the Solomon Islands recently entered a wide-ranging security pact with China. The agreement, which is currently awaiting approval by the Solomon Islands cabinet, would allow China to deploy armed police and military units to the island nation to protect its citizens and national interests. It also makes Solomon Islands port facilities available for Chinese naval and intelligence ships and opens the door for future permanent basing rights for China. The agreement also contains language which permits the secret deployment of Chinese military forces to the island nation and restricts both governments from discussing any such deployments publicly. The country, whose capital Honiara was rocked by anti-COVID and anti-China rioting during 2021, had signed a similar security pact with Australia just prior to Honiara switching allegiances to Beijing. In an extremely unpopular decision with the country’s citizens, the Solomon Islands Prime Minister revoked diplomatic recognition of Taiwan in 2019. (Analyst Comment: China is seeking logistical supply capabilities and material assets located in the Solomon Islands to support its naval forces. The U.S. closed its embassy in the Solomon Islands in 1993 with very little engagement between the two countries since. Following its defection to China and the subsequent unrest in 2021, the U.S. decided to reopen its embassy in Honiara. As the geopolitical reordering continues from the great powers’ competition between the U.S. and China, expect more defections to China by the smaller, poorer, Pacific Island nations. – M.M.)

NORTHCOM “VERY CONCERNED” WITH N. KOREA ICBM IMPROVEMENTS: General Glen VanHerck, head of U.S. Northern Command, said he is “very concerned” about the Pentagon’s ability to keep pace with Pyongyang’s technical advances in long-range missiles. The statement comes on the heels of Pyongyang’s Intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch of the Hwasong-17. General VanHerck, told the Senate Armed Services Committee, “I’m comfortable with where we are today based on the intelligence I have with the current capabilities and capacity of North Korea…going forward, I do believe that they could exceed my capacity and capabilities.” (AC: NORTHCOM is looking toward its Next Generation Interceptor (NGI) to mitigate the emerging ballistic missile threat to the Homeland. The fielding goal for NGI is 2028; however, NORTHCOM stated in 2019 that North Korea could challenge the U.S. Homeland Ground-based Midcourse Defense system by 2025. – D.F.)

US ISSUES NEW SANCTIONS ON RUSSIA: During President Biden’s trip to Europe, the U.S. Treasury announced new sanctions against Russia. Sanctioned entities include all 328 members of Russia’s Duma, defense, technology, and non-state financial organizations. Britain announced a similar round of sanctions, as the U.S. seeks to gain broad support in Europe for targeting Russian lawmakers. (AC: The Western economic warfare strategy may backfire as Russia seeks alternative markets and attempts to force energy transactions in rubles. G-7 leaders want to coordinate sanctions, which Russia could claim is escalatory. Russian officials are publicly lowering the threshold for “existential threats,” ratcheting up nuclear concerns. – D.M.)

SENATOR WARNS OF MIGRANT WAVE: Senator James Lankford (R-OK) warned this week that the Biden administration plans to end Title 42, which enables the Department of Homeland Security to rapidly expel migrants during a public health emergency. The DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis is warning that up to a million migrants camped out at the southern border will attempt to cross within weeks. (AC: Border encounters so far this year continue to make records, so far doubling what was seen at this point last year. The Biden administration is likely to continue transporting migrants deep into the country in order to avoid the appearance of a border crisis. For some perspective, Customs and Border Patrol reported 2.3 million encounters at the southern border last year, while the Biden administration deported 57,000. – M.S.)

ECUADOR PARTNERSHIP: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a new joint US-Ecuador partnership act to strengthen economic and security cooperation in the region. The bill also authorizes the delivery of two excess US Coast Guard vessels to the Ecuadorian military to be used in counter-narcotics efforts.  (AC: The US-Ecuador Partnership Act, which now heads to a Senate floor vote, follows similar moves to secure support from pro-American governments in Central and South America amid expansionary aims of China and Russia. The election of Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso in 2021 broke a 14-year trend of left-wing presidents. Lasso, who is ardently anti-socialist, previously lost presidential bids to socialist candidates. M.S.)

HAZARDS WARNING

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