"Can the U.S. please go one day without imposing sanctions on a new country?" — a new Washington Post op-ed asks in the wake of Marco Rubio declaring diplomatic war on the Solomon Islands.
Senator Rubio tweeted this week immediately in the wake of the Solomon Islands revoking its recognition of self-ruled Taiwan's legitimacy amid historic tensions with China that he will explore slapping the South Pacific island chain with US sanctions.
Rubio vowed to "begin exploring ways to cut off ties with Solomon Islands including potentially ending financial assistance & restricting access to U.S. dollars & banking."
Reuters reported Monday, "The Solomon Islands was the sixth country to switch allegiance to China since President Tsai Ing-wen took office in Taiwan in 2016."
The sovereign nation, which has key involvement in international organizations like the United Nations even though it has a population of less than one million people, had previously recognized Taiwan over the People’s Republic of China since 1983.
However, after a government commission was established to investigate the question of switching its official recognition to Beijing, the fact that an estimated two-thirds of the island chain's exports go to China, according to Reuters, compared to more minuscule foreign aid received from Taipei, was said to be a deciding factor.
This leaves a mere 16 countries that formally recognize Taiwan globally. The dramatic switch was met with Taiwan's long-standing accusation that China was meddling in the affairs of regional nations, especially in Taiwan's own upcoming presidential and legislative elections.
It was a major diplomatic win for China, its foreign ministry greeting the news in a statement saying it “highly commends” the decision to sever diplomatic ties with Taiwan in affirmation of the “One China” principle. “We stand ready to work with the Solomon Islands to open new broad prospects for our bilateral relations,” spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.
Of course, this was enough to trigger China hawks like Sen. Rubio, now apparently figuring out how to inflict retributive economic harm on the Solomon Islands and its inhabitants, which the US has had good relations with since allied forces fought the Japanese there in WWII.
Furthermore, the White House has announced cancellation of a planned meeting between US Vice-President Mike Pence and Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare which had been scheduled for later this month.
This after the US said it was “disappointed” by the Pacific nation over its switch in recognition. One senior administration official also said the diplomatic switch “has consequences” - in reference to the now cancelled meeting.
But the obvious shouldn't be forgotten, as The American Conservative's Daniel Larison points out of Rubio's sanctions threatening rant: “it is utter hypocrisy for an American politician to berate another government for doing what our government did forty years ago.”