On Friday (November 26, 2021) the Solomon Islands woke up to a third day of rioting in its capital, Honiara, as thousands of protesters set buildings on fire and looted amid the rubble of burnt shops.
AFP journalists discovered that police fired tear gas and fired warning shots to disperse a group of protesters who wanted to reach the private residence of Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavari.
The Chinese community has become the target of these protests against the Sugavari government, which shifted its diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to communist China in 2019.
And downtown, thousands of protesters, some armed with knives and axes, fanned out into Chinatown, Point Cruz, and other commercial areas.
The Big Bang in Chinatown
In Chinatown, a huge warehouse was set on fire, causing an explosion that caused many people to disintegrate in panic. There were also reports of burning tobacco deposits.
After three days of unrest, various parts of this city of 80 thousand people were devastated.
Pictures posted on social media show blackened facades and roofs tainted by fires that torched banks, schools, police stations and Chinese-run businesses. Rubble, litter and trees pile up in the streets.
The unrest prompted the deployment of an Australian peacekeeping force, whose first troops arrived on Thursday. Neighboring Papua New Guinea has also announced the dispatch of peacekeepers.
China has expressed “grave concern” about its interests in those islands, and called on its government to ensure the safety of its citizens and entities.
The Solomon Islands have had diplomatic relations with Taiwan since 1983, but in 2019 they decided to recognize the communist regime in Beijing as the legitimate representative of China.
The decision of the Solomon Islands government aroused the indignation of a part of the population that has close ties with Taipei.
GC (AFP, Reuters)