A Closer Look at Solomon IslandsVIEW EVENT DETAILS
Through the Eyes of Leading Local Voices
Solomon Islands, a Pacific archipelago east of Papua New Guinea, is being wooed by the world's big powers. China has been pouring in money, sealed a security agreement with the Solomons government in 2022, and is providing the island nation's police force with weapons and training. Australia responds by moving forward its own arms provision. In its own bid to counter China's growing presence in the Pacific, the U.S. has only just reopened its embassy in the Solomons' capital Honiara, thirty years after closing it.
How do the Solomon Islanders feel about all this? Are they enjoying being the focus of Beijing, Canberra, and Washington? Or do they have things closer to home that keep them occupied? Later this year, their country will host the Pacific Games for the first time, for example. An event so big, that Prime Minister Sogavare used them as an excuse to push back the general election to some time in 2024.
The consequences of what's happening on the Solomons feel outsized for a nation of only a bit over 700.000 people. Time to take a closer look, with renowned local journalist Dorothy Wickham and leading entrepreneur Jay Bartlett. The conversation will be moderated by Simona Grano, senior lecturer at the University of Zurich.
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 Melanesian 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 at the University of Zurich and Director of the Taiwan Studies Project there. 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 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.
Join us for the other upcoming episodes of the series as well, featuring Nepal (Thu, Mar 9) and Thailand (Thu, Mar 23), both at 12:00 CET. Click on the individual episodes to register early and not miss out.