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Paige Fusco

US-China competition expands to the Pacific Islands

Alarmed by China’s progress in extending its influence among a series of strategically located islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, this week President Joe Biden is hosting the first-ever US-Pacific Island Country Summit in Washington, DC. The White House has invited the leaders of 12 Pacific nations to discuss climate change, economic cooperation, and security ties. We asked Eurasia Group expert Peter Mumford to explain the importance of the event.

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A supporter of Colombian presidential candidate Rodolfo Hernandez in Bogota.

REUTERS/Vannessa Jimenez

What We’re Watching: Colombia’s “anti” runoff, Pacific meh on China, Sudan ends emergency

It’s anti vs. anti in Colombia presidential runoff

Colombians wanted change? Well, now they’ll have no choice! In the first round of the country’s presidential election on Sunday, the top two finishers were leftist opposition leader Gustavo Petro (40%) and Rodolfo Hernández (28%), an independent populist tycoon who surged late in the campaign with an anti-corruption message. The two will head to a runoff on June 19. Both promise a radical reorientation of the Andean country at a time of high inequality, rising violence, and simmering social tensions. For Petro, the answer lies in super-taxing the rich, massively expanding the social safety net, and decarbonizing the economy. Hernández, meanwhile, wants to slash taxes, shrink the state bureaucracy, and even legalize cocaine. We’ll have more to say ahead of the runoff, but for now: has the election of any other major economy in recent memory featured a presidential runoff between TWO stridently anti-establishment figures like this?

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Officials from the Solomon Islands and China attend a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing in 2019.

REUTERS/Thomas Peter

What We're Watching: China's Pacific strategy, Ukraine food corridor negotiations, Turkey and Israel getting closer

China doubles down on Pacific strategy

Barely a month after inking a controversial security agreement with the Solomon Islands, China's top diplomat on Thursday kicks off a whistle-stop Pacific tour to a whopping eight countries in just 10 days. Foreign Minister Wang Yi reportedly aims to get them to join a China-led regional security and cooperation framework that Western countries fear will allow Beijing to gain a military foothold in a region long-neglected by the US and its allies. The Chinese, for their part, insist no such deal has been offered and that the countries Wang plans to visit are just "good friends." But Australia and New Zealand aren’t buying it: the Aussies have dispatched their newly minted foreign minister to Fiji in the first stop of a roadshow to counter China in the Pacific, while the Kiwis have announced plans to extend their troop deployment in the Solomon Islands for another year. What's more, both Australia and New Zealand — along with the US — are worried about China's plans for the mega-remote island nation of Kiribati, which has few inhabitants, vast territorial waters, huge strategic value … and switched recognition from Taiwan to China in 2019.

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Solomon Islands to pursue ban on Facebook after government criticism on platform: Media

November 17, 2020 10:37 AM

If the ban goes ahead, the Solomons would join only a handful of countries around the world, including China, that actively restrict Facebook.

Solomon Islands records first Covid-19 case

October 03, 2020 4:52 PM

SYDNEY - Solomon Islands recorded its first ever Covid-19 case, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare announced on Saturday (Oct 3).

Australian, British aid workers killed in blast in Solomon Islands

September 21, 2020 10:20 AM

SYDNEY (REUTERS) - Two men from Australia and Britain who worked for an aid agency that helps to dispose of unexploded bombs were killed in a blast in Solomon Islands, their employer said on Monday (Sept 21).

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