China’s Influence in the Pacific Islands: A Conversation with Daniel Suidani of the Solomon Islands

China’s Influence in the Pacific Islands: A Conversation with Daniel Suidani of the Solomon Islands

In April 2022, the Solomon Islands became the first of the Pacific Islands to sign a security pact with the People’s Republic of China (PRC), setting off alarm bells in Washington. However, China’s influence in the Pacific Islands has been steadily growing for years. In 2019, China succeeded in persuading the Solomon Islands to switch diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to the PRC.

Not everyone in the Solomon Islands welcomed these decisions. Daniel Suidani, the former Premier of the Solomon Islands’ most populous province, Malaita, has put himself in China’s crosshairs by standing firm for democratic principles in the face of Chinese influence and questioning the government’s decision to switch recognition to the PRC. For those views, the government recently ousted him from his elected seat in the Malaita provincial assembly.

Hear from Suidani himself as he sits down with Heritage’s Jeff Smith to discuss China’s growing and alarming influence in the region.

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Ladies and gentlemen Welcome to our Program China's influence on the Pacific Islands a conversation with Daniel Sudani of the Solomon Islands please Welcome Andrew Harding research Assistant in the Heritage foundation's Asian study center Well good morning everyone thank you all For being here today and welcome to the Heritage Foundation an especially warm Welcome to all of those who Brave the Rain to be here and thank you for all Joining us online Today we have a special event this Morning historic even An opportunity to hear from Daniel Sudani the former premiere of malaita Province the most populous province in The Solomon Islands Mr Sudani served as Premiere of Malai to Province from June 2019 to February 2023. During that time the Solomon Island Switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to the People's Republic of China It also agreed to the deepest security Agreement in the Pacific Islands with The People's Republic of China including A provision provision for the POA to Land troops on Solomon soil if necessary And concerns have been growing for years Both within the region And in Washington about China's Influence in the region Not everyone in the Solomon Islands have

Welcomed these decisions Daniel sodani has put himself in China's Crosshairs by standing firm for Democratic principles in the face of Chinese aggression And by questioning the government's Decision to switch recognition to the PRC For these views the government recently Ousted him from his elected seats in the Malaita provincial assembly We look forward to Mr sudani's insights As a first hand Observer to one of the Most important diplomatic political and Security threats In the indo-pacific the region of the Pacific Islands To moderate this discussion Jeff Smith Will be the director of The Heritage Foundation's Asian studies Center Please join me and welcome Daniel Sudani And Jeff Smith to the stage Yes yes perfect Yes Thank you for that introduction Andrew And thank you to everyone for joining us In the auditorium today and and at home Um this is a special event and a special Conversation that I've been looking Personally looking forward to for some Time now I think there may be more interest and Activity on the Pacific Islands The last few months than I've seen in

The previous 15 years of being in Washington Part of that is because we are in the Process of renewing uh Kofa agreements With three Pacific island countries Now but also because China's activities in the Pacific Islands have been picking up of late Including signing a security pact in the Solomon Islands among other things that Have caught our attention Very interested to do a bit of a deeper Dive so that we can understand more of What China has been doing in the Solomon Islands in the Pacific Islands more Broadly But before we get into that Um Mr Sudani I thought maybe you could Begin just with um A brief discussion about your background And and the malaita province that you Come from to help educate our audience Thank you everyone and Thank you everyone and good morning uh Thank you for with us The heritage Foundation for Alan artistic space this Morning to come and Talk to the people that we share the Same views and also thank you for those Who are making the trip possible for Coming here the congressmen Who wrote the letter to To make my Visa possible for me to come

And America is a very special place and It's good to be here I am a teacher by provision In the elementary school before I become The member of the provincial assembly And I was voted in 2019 To become the provincial member of the People of fatalika baigu It's a world in the province of malaita And malid is one of the provinces of Solomon Islands Solomon Islands is made up of nine Provinces and one of the province I came From It's called malaita And I was voted in as a member of the Prophet's assembly and became the Premier as well that same year 2019. So That is A bit of background From me as who I am back in my country Solomon Islands thank you And so just to review the timeline so You were elected premiere of malaita Province in summer of 2019 Shortly after that around September of 2019 the Solomon Islands government Switches recognition from Taiwan to the People's Republic of China Shortly after that within a few weeks You issue a moratorium To say that no PRC CCP companies will be

Allowed to do business in malaita Within a few years the new national Government in Solomon Islands signs a Security pact with the PRC probably the First in the region to sign a security Pact with the PRC And then in February of this year your Ousted And a no-confidence vote because of your Refusal to recognize the one China Policy to recognize the PRC so you may Be as far as I'm aware the first member Of a democratic assembly to be ousted For not recognizing the PRC So having had a front row seat to all of This activity do you could you give us a Few anecdotes about what you're Witnessing on the ground With China's growing presence in the Solomon Islands and what is it that Concerned you so much that you felt the Need to push for a moratorium I've been the premiere for the last two Years when I come into the office we in Terms of The developments that has been happening In the provinces We have been seeing Nothing that the developments have been Doing in in the lives of the people in My Province like the Chinese involvement In logging Industries so we come up with The algae communique upon These reasons one is the idea of the

Ideology of atheists being the province Of marital Christian people and which Like look at the The Atheist they will Be you know they have the different Values and the principles and beliefs That we we cannot match with them so Uh being a representative of the people Uh the people say we should not be Having these people in our Province Because they see a different value at All they are not Christian people such One of the reasons for the how we Communicate and the second one is that We are trying to To do away with Chinese companies the CCP company's involvement in the Province looking at this destructive Development so far these all the market Is for China and the local industry Is destructive all all the way back in The 40 years back from From today so we haven't seen anything Good they left Destroyed environments so many bad Things in the province so the people are Not happy so we set up this moratorium And we've seen the effect of it that we See local people coming up doing Retailing because of the space that has Been left for them in the province so They can come up with Uh the businesses even to the stage of Them being running shipping companies So that in my view I see that standing

For our people will make them you know Become strong in the own place And would you say this is why you Opposed the government's decision to Switch recognition from Taiwan to the PRC could you explain a little more About your thinking and I'm sure that You faced a lot of opposition and you Have faced consequences for taking a Stand on this question can you maybe Talk to us a little bit more about how That decision played out Like this switch from Rock to Taiwan Taiwan government and the to the PRC We've seen that as an act that should Not be happening with the with the Government Because we we expect them to come with Some sort of referendum to get the People know about the whole thing Because We viewed it as something that will come And be part of our life in the future so People need to be aware of The way they the the CCB is dealing with The development in a country So that is not the case uh they make the Switch without The people know uh that this gonna Happen and we expect that during the National General campaign The government should have the candidate Should have you know Come with no knowing the getting to

People to know that we we after this Government come into power we'll have a Switch so that people can know exactly What and they will be prepared to do Other things in terms of when the Streets happen because we think that the Idea that we're going to pay for during The election through our pilot papers we We need to know and we must agree before Giving them the Mandate in power but the Issue of switch has not been the case so My people didn't agree with the switch So they said that uh The money the provincial government will Remain as a government under the National government but will not accept Anything from the CCP At the moment because we are not Prepared we don't have to safeguards to Safeguard our people in terms of uh you Know With the CCP government coming to the Province and so you essentially you Don't believe that the government Consulted with the people Um or or gained the Mandate or Legitimacy to make such a a switch they Essentially made the switch on their own And then tried to force it down on the Rest of the provinces and and you've Been resisting that Um Can you tell me a bit about the your Current status you were ousted in a

No-confidence vote but I understand You're challenging that decision through Legal means Um are you hoping to be able to return To your your assembly seat with the Lawsuit Definitely I just believe strongly believe because Of uh The act of disqualifying me or Counseling my seed Uh in the provincial government act that I have known of there is nothing that Informs a minister of the central Government in his power to give the Disqualification letter to me because I Was forwarded by the people and I was Mandated by my people and it would be Right for me to go out from the seed by My people not the minister of the of the National government so in that in that In the field I'm hoping to get my my Seat back after The court case that have been filed for The high court to see and give decision On the matter And have you noticed since the security Agreement and the new government came to Power that more members of the assembly Are suddenly adopting very pro-china Positions Um has has China's influence been Impacting the decisions being made at The National Assembly level

Yes they do because uh when we were in The executive government they paid six Members of my my executive government to Resign from my government when I was in Brisbane and that was The truth about they've been involved in The provincial matters so they paid the They give money they give money to the Members of the assembly to resign from My government but it's I'm so lucky that I can replace the sixth at the same time With the opposition group that believe In what I stand for so I believe there's this influence that The CCB through the national government Has been doing uh to disturb my Government so the the PRC it seems paid Money to Provincial assembly members to resign in Order to hurt you and you are able to Counteract that move at least at the Moment The influence of the PRC normally comes With the the cronies of the national Government yeah so they you cannot Really figure out but we can see that This money comes from cccp because of uh They are going for the ccp's interest so That in my mind I I just understand that The all these influence come from the CCP through the dcga Now at the same time that you banned CCP Money and projects in malaita you did Say you open uh the doors to Amer a

Greater American presence American Aid American development projects Um how is that received by your Constituents are they generally more Open to the United States and wishing Greater interaction with the U.S The people in the constituency in Mali The Province as a whole they are very Happy about the uh scale which is now in The province of malagita and if not it's The first time A bigger country like the U.S Come straight to the province through a Platform under the ngos of the United States of America called Windrock and People are very happy because they Meaningfully engaged properly with the Resources through the funding start 25 Million U.S that has been funded to the Malita provincial people But it does seem to me just from hearing Your story and the more I learn about it The more it strikes me that that Diplomatically the US has not been very Present and very active in some of these Uh Shenanigans that have been taking place Over the past few years do you wish to See more U.S engagement With the Solomon Islands and As this sort of political turmoil is Playing out how can the U.S government Be helpful in either stabilizing the Situation or promoting democratic values

And principles or ensuring that Undemocratic practices are not taking Hold At the ccp's behest I've got three reasons three reasons to To to to share here one is the issue of Elections that has been The Bedrock of alienation uh The government has extend the election For a course of sport a Pacific game And they said that because we have the Pacific games 2023 uh we we need to move Or extend the election to 2024 and that Is one of the saddest thing we have had A lane of because of The election is much more bigger and It's a foundation of democracy to any Country and it's very sad to see that The government is extending the election For the course of games and we would Like to see the U.S in any way possible To get this narrative to the strong Government that we need to have election Before Sports this is one of the Important things that should be Happening in in in the country of Sherman Islands in terms of the Democracy beliefs and the the way CCP Influenced the government to have the Sport because we have seen the by the Time they hand the the Infrastructure to the people of Solomon Island it will going to be a huge thing And people will see that this is

China this is how China do things much Faster than the US so they seems to Think that election is something that Important so we are fighting for the Election to be The most important thing to happen than Sports such one secondly the absence of The U.S like we have seen we have the Belief in democracy and the people can Keep asking but the way she wished was The he was United States because we have Seen Chinese people here we've seen Noodles and all staff of food that been Import from China but the people back in The country still have the belief Because of The relationship in back way back in 1942 where the Americans were held by Militants who fought in the War and when We see the Parliamentary house in Solomon Islands we think of U.S because The other one building the place the Parliamentary house And now that the ush scale is there In the in Malita province We think it's good for the U.S people to To have a platform that connects with The Solomon Island people it's a people To people so that we can see effectively How things be happening because we have Been Seeing this government to government Issues and nothing happened we are Feeding a government that is not good

For the people so is there any way that We can have another different ways of Aligning the helps from the United States to the people of solomona that Would be a good idea Oh Now I'm very um I think it's very fortunate that you Were able to make this trip to the U.S I Think you're here this week and and next Week as well and you're able to tell Some of your story Um to think tanks like us to Members of Congress Um are you fearful of what will happen When you return to the Solomon Islands It does seem that the federal government And the current prime minister are very Much at odds with your position and with The support of the CCP and others have Been targeting you are you fearful for Your future Definitely when I was back in the Solomon Island we have seen this news in News in papers Talking about Putting Sweden in the front page of Solomonster and Island Sun that the Sacred thing is now become known to People Sweden is arranging a huge quad To kill sogovare and all those things You know Give me a a very big Like I'm very fearful of these

Informations always in the front page of The Soul monster news so going back to The Solomon Islands it's not easy we Believe they will try their very best to Find ways to arrest us both of us Because of uh the way we are here in the U.S and with the Medias that we have Been now Uh communicating and advocating our Rights and the principles of democracy With something that CCP will will not Like to hear so How much that we are here when we go Back it will be much more difficult for Us than we ever in the Solomons and the News is the news that happened in Newspapers are still not not not Behavior or been think of very strongly In the minds of politicians those who Want to keep the positions but We are so threatened to go back and but We have no choice we must go back to Fight for the right for our people Have other countries in the region have You noticed similar Chinese activities Either from a negative perspective or Have have any other of your Regional Partners been helpful I know Australia Often has a influential role in the Pacific Islands have they in this case Been helpful or have have they not been Supporting your efforts From the creation always as a Premiere What I've seen the the behavior behavior

Of the the partners that have been Working closely with Solomon and Government they always you know uh seems To believe this bilateral thing between Government to government and in many Cases that really affects the People by Pressing them down for standing for Their right because of like now we have The Chinese police Advisors in the country and they are you Know asking the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to order guns to look after the Infrastructures but it is so lucky that This news you know exports before doing It so ending up the government don't Allow it but the issue of getting Replica guns into the country and all These things it's like aiding aiding Their the The countries that we have friends to Like aiding them to keep the people's Voice down At the moment we we hardly talk out or You cannot speak for your right because When you speak against the one China Policy or things that the government Wants it will be you will be arrested so This is A very fearful situation back at home so Most most neighbors Australia included Seem to be working with the federal Government and supporting efforts to Suppress Your opposition in some ways to the to

The one China policy basically they've Been engaging with the Prime Minister But not with your Province or you or Other officials that are pushing back Against China's presence is that right Yes because uh what what what is what Was actually the the process at the Moment is the the other government like In Australia they cannot deal directly With the provincial government so the Only way for the Australian to deal with The people of summer is through the the Government to government procedures so It would be very difficult except on Things like the ngos where they hardly Been have the the good you know Organizing themselves in the province in The provinces on how they been doing Things so in terms of Australian being Helping the provinces they must come to To the national government and very Rarely you can see people from this Ballot or French coming to the provinces If it's okay with you I would love to Open up the discussion and maybe get Some questions from the audience yes Okay with the tradition we have here at Heritage we like to keep it an Interactive discussion looks like we Already have a few so maybe we'll go Left to right Is that right Yeah g'day G'day Premier Lincoln Parker from

Australia oh So Um It's sad to hear that it seems that the Australian government isn't supporting You and considering that Solomon Islands Is such a strategic Country to the northeast of Australia Could certainly if it fell into Chinese Hands cut off our C Lanes of Communication and our trade Um considering that Australia seems only to be dealing with The Prime Minister sargavari And that you've recently been ousted From your position as premier of my Lata The largest province in the Solomon Islands simply because you don't support The one China policy which seems strange To make in a democracy and And also that in a democracy that they Have postponed A federal election simply because of uh Some sport I'm wondering Um and and also lastly I heard that you Are in fear of being arrested when you Get back from CCP coercion of the Federal government I'm wondering is the Australian government doing anything at All to assist you Um whether formally or informally Considering that you are one of the last Western allies we seem to have in the

Solomons what if anything are the Australians doing to help you Foreign Thank you So far In terms of the governance in malaita Where going back to when I was the Premier uh The help that has been given to us is to The national government through uh helps Like Medical Treatments but for me to Get a health as a premier from the Government of Australia or any time that We can talk or they can call me an Office that we can discuss issues Relating to the belief we have this is Not now More questions Hello I'm Gavin Sue from the Atlanta Council and I have a question regarding Um a previous comment you made about Being afraid for your life Um so I was um so I'm wondering how the Solomon Islands is working to combat um Just Chinese disinformation and I'm Chinese this information does not Necessarily have to come from places Like xinhua or the Chinese Embassy and As you mentioned before there was um it Can also come from like disinformation Within the Solomon Islands and So like Um you mentioned for the Solomon star it Was an article by a reporter called Alfred sasako and he claimed that you

Were behind the U.S back plot conspir Conspiring to overthrow the government Of the Prime Minister and so this Reporter Alfred sesako of the Solomon Star also has connections to China for Example he visited China before and Sponsorship from the CCP as well as CCP Aligned organizations and so with this Information of environment with CCP Connected journalists working at these Um prominent newspapers it seems like There's not much done in terms of Protecting the information environments And do you think this is a problem Within like Publications like the Solomon star or the federal government Is in related on this as well thank you Is the editor of the edit of the Solomon Star is one of the main new streams Newspapers in the Solomon Islands and he Also has an ovulation with the CCP So most of the informations like We have seen the way he he wrote his News in the media is it's not it's not Neutral so looking from now that he's With the medi the new government of Malaita who is advising Malita Provincial new premier he is also get Some advices from the national Government from the CCP in Working together to ask my government From being as a premier of The Province So yes the newspaper solomonster has Been you know the Chinese people has

Been supporting this newspaper giving Them apparatus like laptops and Computers and we believe they've been Involving much in that uh that that Newspaper in the in in the Solomon Islands there are only two newspapers And one is the one the Chinese CCP has Been involved much in it Maybe question over here Thank you two two quick questions one uh We talked about Australia as a partner But also um what do you think about some Of the other partners like Japan well How's Japan perceived on the ground and The other question is Um a lot of what you're describing Happens through bribery through illegal Money Um is there a way maybe of tracking Illegal money or something like that That would help would uh anti-corruption Efforts be helpful in this process Thank you yes uh uh the first question Is about the The Japan Japan is very it's the only Country that involved Many infrastructure big ones like Road And bridges and Wharf but they are very Quiet they're so quiet so they're doing Things in this in the in the country They involve in Community developments and even the main Infrastructures of the country like the Roads but they are so very quiet they're

Just doing things quietly yeah and The other question is the Money yes with them this is something Very difficult for a introduce Solomon Islander to quickly get in into it Getting how this money comes and how the Members of parliament get involved in This corruption but they did because we Have seen uh the way Uh the switch And also the extension of the the the The the Parliament election is because the 39 Members of these members have been paid With the Chinese fund and 39 is to third Of the parliament of 50 and if you have To date on your side you can change the Constitution so just so I heard that Correct you said 39 of the 50 members of The National Assembly or being paid from A Chinese slush fund yes okay We have more it's good lots of questions Dean baxendale China democracy fund I've been following Uh Daniel's case for some time now Um one of the things that uh you Mentioned about sasako he's also the Vice president of the China friendship Association of the Solomon Islands which Is the united front operation uh so just To clarify that again the editor who is Writing articles against you is a member Of the China friendship association yes Okay so which we know united front uh

And these operations are but a microcosm As we see it playing out in the Solomon Islands so for America and the world uh Watching what's happening in the Solomon Islands and and we know about the Influence operations in Canada United States and Britain how do you see your Battle to support maleta and the people Of the Solomon Islands playing out on a Global stage because really this is you Know your democracy is at stake our Democracies are at stake so how do you See it playing out for yourself in the Future and when you go back to the Solomon Islands how do you hope to fight Back again Thank you that's a very good question uh First One of the the very important things That we need to have is the election Is the first number one thing putting The Democratic principles back Into order That is one of the things that people in The the whole Solomon Islands will see That they have that still have the Democratic rights The rights that belong to the people the Bedrock of Any Nation is election so if We can if the the world those who we Share the same principle can have some Kind of A narrative that goes back to the Solomon Islands about the election thing

That will help us So much Another issue is the court cases that we Have filed against The national government Because these cases are in my view it's A test case for all of the Pacific Region is for them to get all on an Elected member For not believing to One China policy And you've been housed or control your Seed from being a member and if we can Prove that That they lose the case It's going to be a show for all of the Pacific Nations and the Solomon Island And that in itself will give the people The direction and the thinking that we Have seen with our own eyes as these People are not telling the truth because The court case say so they've lost the Case But unfortunately and thank you for Those who help in like yourself in Funding the cases by katong this case is You know it's very very expensive for a Local Solomon a injured Solomon Island To to file in the high court these laws Of the cost of the cases are very very Expensive and they are they are pushing At to an Avenue that we cannot Footed like the court cases even if you Got something to to challenge in God you Will hardly do it because of the court

Case it's very expensive so by winning The court cases and putting the election In in order And then working from people to people The three main things I've seen will Definitely quickly change the whole Situation A virtual question from the audience Submitted from Kimberly Reed here's her Question I served as the chairman of the export Import Bank of the United States during The Trump Administration National Security adviser Ambassador Robert O'Brien and I hope to visit the Solomon Islands in November 2021 but covet Presented some challenges my export Import tenure ended in 2021. in 2022 News reports indicated that the Solomon Islands government has secured a 66 Million dollar loan from China to build 161 mobile communication Towers which Will be built and supplied by Chinese Telecom giant walkway the loan will come From the export import Bank of China Which has offered a one percent interest Rate so do you need a U.S export import Bank as part of a whole of government Approach to help the Solomon Islands buy Made in the USA goods and services Versus China And let me just add a follow-up because Um briefly before we came in here it Sounded as if one of the new one of the

First initiatives taken by the new Malaita Premiere so you were ousted and A new one was brought in this year and One of the first things he did was to Bring in Huawei to build new towers How could the U.S government to get to The original question maybe help to Counteract some of this activity or at Least provide malaita with alternatives If they choose not to go that route I think the because the reason for Building the towers when they come to The pro when I was still a premier they Said that was a helpful in terms of Health Medical Services you can stay Anywhere in the province even in the Highlands of the province and you can Still do operations like doctors will Use this communication to get advice From doctors in Australia and anywhere In the world just to do operation they Are using medical you know Communication skills To change the mind of the executive Government But I have seen during that time that This is Uh like an excuse for them to bring in The towers we have the Telecom Towers in The provinces we have the B mobile Company Towers in the provinces and I Was hoping that they upgrade the Tawas There and then the service is still will Be going under the same service

Providers but Going back to the new government That is the aim of the national Government to to ask me so that they can Put the new government that they easily Control over so now it happens so they Are getting the engineers from the Chinese engineer to Go to the province and find out where The towers to be located When I was asked for the premier so That's their aim and if the the US Government Can step in in putting a communication That is much cheaper Or maybe a waste that can be cheap to Get because communication back in the Solvent is very expensive and for the Government to use China money to build Towers and then rent it out to the Telecommunication provide service Providers it would be add on to the Price of the service for customers so I I blocked US 24 Towers I see we've got a few more in the Audience and I understand one more Online Oh okay sorry one time for one more Question period Um Thanks very much for your time it's been Really interesting listening to you Um I wondered what do you think China's End game is for the Solomon Islands is

It ultimately to try and build a Military facility there but what's the What's the end game and also can I ask Um what do you hear about other Countries in the Pacific and the Influence China has on them Andrew did you have a question as well Maybe we could take two for one as a Final All right for you your honor we've seen Other countries which are heavily in Debt via the belt and road projects how They've changed their constitution to The behest of the PRC regime for example Last year Barbados changes Constitution And changed its ceremonial head of state When do you see the same thing happening Uh in the Solomon Islands of the past of China Could you rephrase that maybe some other Words oh Barbados last year yeah had a change Their head of state without referendum And removed then Queen Elizabeth II as Their head of state how soon before King Charles III is removed as a hesitate of The Soul Mounds as the past of China Yeah Well let's take the first one first So What's China's long-term game plan What's the end game if China were to get Everything it wanted what would that Look like in the Solomon Islands what do

You think is their end goal With the military thing they've been Tried Once in the past with the some group Group company Trying to get the base into lagi where The British Capital used to be before But people start to you know find out The background of that investment into Lagi that that some group somehow Belongs to the pla so In my view whatever they try to whatever Way they try to to get into the country By using so many Different developments uh what is in the The back of their mind Maybe sometimes happen maybe in military I don't know but we can see that the way They start putting in uh Vehicles Riot Vehicles and Riot gears and trainings in The country it seems to To show us the beginning of things like That so I've been seeing that if we Don't have Uh careful we will end up like the Weakest we have been To the weakest Community here and the Way they talked about how China come Into their place is exactly the same as What is happening in the Solomon right Now so they talk about infrastructures Good things win-win situations and now They end up that way so Solomon Islands Two are now going in the same trend of

You know ways the Chinese come in our Country now they start to adopt our Culture they go and give Sell money to the people in Mali The Province as though this Shellman is Giving is their culture so they have Seen that they are they're creeping into Our culture and very shortly if we are Not careful about They will be looking after the whole of Roman islands with the way they think They will gain their the aims and Objectives Your timing is perfect we had a hard Stop at a 11 45 and I think uh we Frankly covered a lot of ground just in Our short conversation you've done a Tremendous job educating us about what's Happening in your country and in your Province it is absolutely vital for us To hear from you uh what's happening There because Unfortunately the Pacific Islands have Been a I think a blind spot for the United States for too long And so I want to thank the audience for Coming out on a rainy day and attending In person I want to thank you for Making this trip and for bravely Fighting for Democratic principles in your country And for your people at Great risk to Yourself

And I think it's very admirable what You've done I wish you luck in the rest Of your journey here in Washington I Hope you're able to educate U.S Lawmakers and diplomats and other Officials on what's taking place and Finally a message to the U.S government The Solomon Islands government and the Chinese government will be watching Uh what happens in the weeks and months Ahead and we'll be raising awareness About it So thank you Mr Sudani thank you

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