The Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s (ABC) flagship current affairs program Four Corners last Monday called on Four Corners to review recent developments in China-Solomon Islands relations, reportedly citing US propaganda and Australian government about the impoverished island nation. did.
Because the show claimed to highlight foreign interference in Solomon Islands politics, the show did not mention the country’s most glaring violations of sovereignty — US funding and political support for violent separatist organizations in Malaita province and Washington. Threaten to invade the country if it has a Chinese military base. Remarkably, the United States was not mentioned once in the 45-minute broadcast.
The show, titled “Capture the Pacific: How Chinese Money is Buying the Solomons,” showed Beijing’s aid and investment in the Pacific country in its darkest light.
China donated garbage trucks in Honiara (Screenshot: ABC/Four Corners)
Donations of a fleet of fishing motorboats, garbage trucks, and investments in a sports stadium and cellphone towers have all been seen as mechanisms to expand Chinese influence. In regions like Latin America and Africa, it’s a familiar line of Western media. Neglect and exploitation by the old imperialist powers are seen as normal, with any Chinese aid and investment, albeit limited, portrayed as encroaching on the otherwise friendly relationship between advanced capitalist countries and the pre-colonial world. has gone.
Australian imperialism’s responsibility for the poverty and underdevelopment of the Solomon Islands was never acknowledged.
After gaining formal independence from Britain in 1978, the Solomon Islands’ political system and economy were heavily influenced by Australia. Canberra began a neo-colonial takeover of the country between 2003 and 2017, spending $2.6 billion on Solomon Islands Regional Relief Missions (RAMSI). Much of this money went to police, security and Australian businesses and consultants. Virtually nothing was spent on health, education and other basic services – a fact which, again, was not picked up by the Four Corners, who blamed Prime Minister Manasseh Sogaware for the lack of basic services at the Honiara hospital.
One of the central goals of the program was to portray sogaware as personally corrupt.
Ruth Lilocula of Transparency International Solomon Islands provided lengthy comments condemning the Prime Minister. Four Corners has not reported any conflicts of interest related to his position.
Transparency International receives millions of dollars annually from government agencies around the world, including Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Additionally, Lilokula has personal ties to Australian interests in the Solomon Islands, having received a significant award from RAMSI in 2012 and having previously worked for Australian mining company Allied Gold when they operated the lucrative Gold Ridge mining site.
In the story Four Corners, Lilocula specifically blames Sogaware for a violent attempted coup against his own government last November. He insisted that the three days of arson and looting would not have happened if the prime minister had met forces intent on overthrowing him.
This absurd statement served to deflect attention from reporting on the forces actually responsible for the failed coup attempt – the violent Malayan separatists who enjoyed American support. The rioters were led by the now-banned organization Malaita for Democracy (M4D), which has close ties to Malaysian Prime Minister Daniel Suidani. They have received tens of millions of dollars in direct US aid for illegally maintaining ties with Taiwan, despite the country’s diplomatic move to Taiwan in 2019.
American personnel in Malaita support his government and its supporters. For example, in January 2020, officials from the International Republican Institute (IRI), an organization with close ties to US intelligence agencies, met with Naxalie Attu, leader of the M4D. Attu has since been arrested for his role in the November riots and is awaiting trial. 2020 however Solomon Star reported that IRI Program Officer Claire Hubbard said her organization “really appreciates M4D’s efforts to serve the people and wants to encourage M4D to continue their good work.”
Another apparent omission in the Four Corners program was the Australian Government’s 2006-2007 campaign against the Sogaware government. After sogaware was considered a threat to RAMSI, it was specifically removed during this period. The Four Corners briefly reported an incident in which Australian Federal Police raided the Prime Minister’s office in October 2006, but failed to place this in the context of the series of lawless provocations Canberra used to destabilize Solomon’s government. had to do.
This included a brutal witch hunt against then Solomon Islands Attorney General Julian Motti. Australia’s top diplomat in Honiara dismissed false and long-discredited sexual assault allegations, and officials abused Australia’s extraterritorial child sex tourism laws to demand Moti’s extradition. This culminated in the illegal transfer of beads to Australia by Australian Police in December 2007.
The case was dismissed four years later in a damaging High Court ruling and the Australian government was forced to apologize to international lawyers and pay them compensation. .
None of these facts were mentioned on the Four Corners show, reflecting the show’s political agenda.
Basic context was not provided for many issues. This included the issue of the Sogaware government, which pays constituency funds to its MPs. The Chinese funding of these payments has been presented as conclusive evidence of corruption – despite Sogaware’s unqualified promise to end the constituency funding system, as well as the history of these payments. Taiwan invented the mechanism for directly funding government officials and used the funds for years during the RAMSI period to ensure Taiwan’s logging companies were not hampered by their violent activities.
The completion of the Four Corners program left no doubt that it was intended to help prepare for a potential RAMSI recurrence.
In 2003, the neo-colonial operation was justified by claiming that the Solomon Islands were a “failed state”. The ABC program ended with opposition MP Silas Tausinga saying the country had become a “banana republic”. Four Corners reporter Angus Grieg asked if the Solomon Islands was a “failed state,” and Tausinga replied, “We’re moving very strongly in that direction. If you look at the foreign forces in the country, you can almost see it.” Might indicate we are on the road to a failed state.”
The ABC and its Four Corners have a long history of sponsoring Australian Government provocations in the South Pacific and South East Asia. In 2006, a quirky “Four Corners” scheme discredited then Timor Prime Minister Mari Alcatiri and fueled Canberra’s campaign to oust him and his Fratillin government (see: “Prime Minister of East Timor Alcatiri The Australian Government’s Role in the Exit”) . In the Solomon Islands, the ABC resumes its role as a propaganda channel for Australian imperialism as the US intensifies war preparations against China.
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