Episode 13: A Closer Look at Solomon Islands
Through the Eyes of Leading Local Voices
February 23, 2023 – This episode of A Closer Look talks about challenges and opportunities in Solomon Islands. The archipelago in the southwestern Pacific has myriad problems. China has build up a strong foothold in the country, financing the construction of roads, hospitals, and sports venues. The U.S., Australia, and their partners are now playing catch-up as a direct answer to China's growing presence in the Pacific island nation.
Renowned local journalist Dorothy Wickham and leading entrepreneur Jay Bartlett talk about what life in the Solomons is like amidst all this. Hear from the front line of a big power struggle, in this webcast moderated by Simona Grano.
Dorothy Wickham is a highly experienced journalist and trusted voice in the Pacific. She's has been reporting from Solomon Islands for nearly 35 years and is said to know everyone in the country. She has an in-depth understanding of Pacific politics, culture and effective communication practices. Dorothy has been a long standing host of Talking Truth, a national radio talkback program in Solomon Islands, and managing editor of One News Television. She is the founding editor of social media site Melanesia News Network. Her work also appears in The New York Times, The Guardian, and other publications.
Jay Bartlett is Managing Director at Hatanga, Ltd., a construction company based in the Solomons' capital Honiara. He's also a Board Member at the Central Bank of the Solomon Islands. From 2014 until 2022 he chaired the country's Chamber of Commerce & Industry. He also holds positions at the Solomon Islands Tertiary Skills and Education Authority and at bmobile, a cell service company. Jay obtained a Bachelor's Degree in Marine Sciences from James Cook University in Queensland, Australia.
Simona A. Grano is Senior Lecturer and Director of the Taiwan Studies Project at the University of Zurich. She completed her Ph.D. in Chinese Studies at Ca' Foscari University of Venice, Italy. She has held research positions and taught China Studies and Taiwan Studies at her alma mater, at the University of Zurich in Switzerland and at the National Cheng'chi University in Taiwan. She has also been a visiting scholar at the University of Hong Kong and is a research fellow of the European Research Center on Contemporary Taiwan (ERCCT), in Tübingen, Germany as well as a research associate of SOAS. Simona's regional expertise centers on the People's Republic of China as well as on Taiwan and Hong Kong. She co-edited the brand new book China-US competition: impact on small and middle powers' strategic choices (Palgrave Macmillan, 2023), an examination of European and Asian responses to the escalating rivalry between the US and China. She is also the author of Environmental Governance in Taiwan: a new generation of activists and stakeholders (Routledge, 2015). Her co-edited monograph Civil Society and the State in Democratic East Asia: Between Entanglement and Contention in Post High Growth (Amsterdam University Press, 2020) analyzes the dichotomy between civil society and the state in Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan.