A building with three Taiwanese flags flying out the front has escaped unscathed as anti-Chinese riots see the Solomon Islands descend into chaos.
Protesters have left a trail of destruction over the last two days as they lash out against Chinese influence in the South Pacific nation, but the building with the flags prominently displayed dodged the violence that has seen shops targeted in the Chinatown of the capital, Honiara.
Meanwhile, Australian police forces have arrived in the Solomon Islands to provide security in the region following days of rioting in the capital Honiara.
A building prominently displaying three Taiwanese flags (pictured) was left untouched while other shops and businesses were torched in the Solomon Islands as protests rage over the nation’s decision to switch diplomatic ties from Taiwan to China
Rioters set fire to the Kukum Traffic Police station on Thursday as violence on the streets forced Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare to lock down Honiara and impose a curfew
A crowd gathers at Naha Police Station as they defy the lockdown in the capital. The island nation has erupted in anti-Chinese riots so severe Australia has decided to send in troops and police officers
Australia has deployed 23 Australian Federal Police officers, including tactical response teams to the Pacific island nation to help with stability.
An additional 50 AFP officers and 43 Australian Defence Force members will fly out to the country on Friday.
Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said Australian forces had been armed with lethal and non-lethal weapons.
‘Our role is to assist the Solomon Islands police force to restore law and public order as soon as we possibly can,’ Ms Andrews told ABC TV on Friday.
‘This is a policing matter, not a military matter, so we are working very closely with the police force there.’
Ms Andrews said Australia’s deployment was in response to a request for help from the Solomon Islands government under a bilateral security treaty.
Australian Federal Police Special Operations officers head to Honiara as the vanguard of Australia’s snap peacekeeping deployment
Twenty three AFP officers flew out on Friday (pictured), with 50 more to follow along with 43 Australian Defence Force members
‘We are not there to intervene in any way in domestic matters,’ Ms Andrews said.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne said it was likely the Australian deployment in the region would last for weeks.
While there was not an exact figure, she estimated there were 200 Australian citizens in the country.
‘We will engage with them as we need to in terms of those who might wish to leave,’ Senator Payne told ABC Radio.
‘Importantly, the travel advice is very, very clear about avoiding demonstrations and protests.’
A fireman walks past a torched hardware store in Honiara. Rioters have targeted shops and businesses in the Chinatown part of the city
Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare imposed a lockdown in Honiara for 36 hours along with a curfew in a bid to quell the unrest.
The lockdown ended on Friday morning.
Mr Sogavare has blamed foreign powers for encouraging the unrest in the country.
The widespread protests have largely started due to the island nation’s decision in 2019 to switch diplomatic ties from Taiwan to China.
While MPs in the Solomon Islands have expressed concern Australian intervention could prop up support for Mr Sogavare, Senator Payne said Australia would not intervene in domestic politics.
‘These are matters for them to resolve, we would of course encourage engagement and dialogue but it is not for us to pass any comment,’ she said.
‘There is a broad recognition that it is important to support the stability where we are able to do so.’
Pacific Minister Zed Seselja said the situation was challenging but that the government understood all Australians in the country were safe.
‘(Australian forces) are going into a volatile situation but we’ve got the utmost confidence that they have the highest level of professionalism as they’re dealing with this,’ he told ABC Radio.
‘It is about restoring order, it is not about picking sides in any political processes.’