The writing is on the wall, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare’s pivot to China is now complete. Nine memorandums of understanding have been signed during his recent visit to China, ushering in a new era of partnership between the two countries.

The agreements cover a wide range of thematic areas, from agriculture, fisheries, maritime, and a police cooperation agreement, which, to date, remains a secret document. This has not boded well with traditional partners, with Australia calling on the Prime Minister to make the document public.

The Pivot to China is clear by the Prime Minister’s statements on arrival, accusing traditional development partners of holding back aid, and for behaving unneighborly, insisting that what he did is in the best interest of the Solomon Islands. The fact that he is looking to China to plug budgetary gaps is an indication of his true intentions, although accusations of traditional partners holding back aid were denied.

The Prime Minister follows a well-scripted line, that accuses the West of interference, and praises China for what it has done in a short period of time. The Pacific Games will be the Prime Minister’s signature statement, a statement to the rest of the region, that his decision to switch to China has paid dividends and will be used to showcase to the region what a partnership with China looks like.

The ease with which the Prime Minister gained access to the top brass of China’s leadership is also an indication of the trust China has in the Prime Minister’s leadership, or perhaps the strategic importance of the Solomon Islands – and by extension the Pacific region.

Sovereign decisions must be respected, the Prime Minister says. But, in the same vein, should we not consider the views of our neighbors? It may well be that we are the ones acting unneighborly, playing down concerns raised by our Pacific family.

Development should be welcomed, and perhaps encouraged, regardless of who is engaged in that space. Security matters on the other hand should be discussed openly. The Solomon Islands is where it is today because of a regional security agreement that brought in RAMSI. The country, most recently, was close to anarchy had it not been for the timely intervention of a regional force.

Despite all this, the Solomon Islands is a democracy and will remain that way for the next millennia – it is the only system that will work in an ethnically diverse country – no one man or one party can ever command the trust and loyalty of the masses – unless of course it is done through force.

This is perhaps a phase, a phase the region needs, to reassess how we approach each other, how we treat each other, and how democracies should never take each other for granted.