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Protesters teargassed as they call for Solomon Islands Prime Minister to step down

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The Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands has vowed to track down rioters who attempted to storm the nation’s parliament

Police in Solomon Islands have used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse large crowds that turned out in the capital Honiara on Wednesday afternoon demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare says the protestors are seeking to “bring a democratically elected government down”.

The nation’s capital now remains under lockdown following civil unrest.

Protesters are calling for the Prime Minister to resign, as they looted stores and set fire to buildings, including in the nation’s Parliament.

Police also deployed tear gas to break up the protests.

The Solomons Government has faced pressure over a 20-19 decision to cut ties with Taiwan, and establish a relationship with China.

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Who would win a war between the U.S. and China?

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The U.S and China are in the grips of an arms race, which has not been seen since the depths of the Cold War era

Chinese President Xi Jinping wants his armed forces to become a modern powerhouse by 2035.

In his eyes, they should be “fighting and winning wars” by 2050.

It’s an overt and confronting military strategy, at least that’s how the West perceives it.

In May, a reporter asked U.S. President Joe Biden if he would come to Taiwan’s aid militarily if a conflict ever arises. He answered “yes” at the time because “that’s the commitment we made”.

The answer was a change in the U.S.’ history of strategic ambiguity, and likely caused a stir among Chinese officials.

So, when U.S. House Speaker visited the democratically-ruled island last week, China was hardly going to stay silent.

“We take this trip at a time when the world faces a choice between autocracy and democracy.”

NANCY PELOSI, U.S. HOUSE SPEAKER

Pelosi is the most senior U.S. official to visit Taiwan in 25 years. This is an issue for Chinese officials who are committed to the ‘One China’ principle.

As China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying said “there is only one China in the world and Taiwan is part of China.”

China has responded to Pelosi’s visit by test firing ballistic missiles near the island, which is home to over 23 million people. Taiwan has also simulated its defence capabilities, as Chinese Navy vessels remain in the Taiwan Straits.

The U.S. House Speaker meets with Taiwan’s President.

China’s live fire drills sent ballistic missiles into Japan’s exclusive economic zone for the first time.

“Those who play with fire will perish by it and those who offend China will be punished.”

WANG YI, CHINA’S FOREIGN MINISTER

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-Wen said the military exercises were “unnecessary responses”.

How does China’s military stack up?

While we don’t know much about China’s military, we do know it is growing at a rapid rate.

In 2014, China overtook the U.S. with the world’s largest navy.

“The crisis will end at a time and in a manner of China’s choosing,” said Dr Michael Sullivan, who is an international relations practitioner at Flinders University.

The U.S. Congressional Research Service, which advises lawmakers and strategy, predicts Chinese navy ships will increase by nearly 40 per cent between 2020 and 2040.

“Some U.S. observers are expressing concern or alarm regarding the pace of China’s naval shipbuilding effort and resulting trend lines regarding the relative sizes and capabilities of China’s navy and the U.S. Navy”

U.S. Congressional Research Service

Of course, the sheer size of a military does not necessarily correlate to its strength. For example, the U.S. has 11 aircraft carriers while China has three.

The U.S. also has more nuclear-powered submarines and larger warships.

As such, it’s hard to imagine President Biden risking a rather expensive aircraft carrier to end the current situation in the Taiwan Straits.

The Chinese Navy is growing at a faster rate than any other fleet.

Beijing does not publish its military spending data but analysts believe the nation is seeking to fast-track its military capabilities through hypersonic missiles.

As the name suggests, these weapons are known for their speed. In fact, they can travel at more than five times the speed of sound.

China denies using these weapons but the West remains concerned because of their speed, and limited detection on radar systems.

“The Chinese government is demonstrating that the era of the U.S. calling the shots militarily in the Taiwan Straits is over.”

Dr michael sullivan, flinders university

The U.S. Pentagon increased its budget requests to $3.8 billion to develop hypersonic weapons for this fiscal year.

The nation currently uses cruise missiles but these are inferior to hypersonic weaponry because of their slower speed, shorter range and tracking capabilities.

How will this end?

China has not fought in a war since 1979 after a tense battle with Vietnamese forces.

This means Beijing’s forces have not been on show in the modern era, and it seems the West would very much like it to keep it that way.

“We await further political fallout between Beijing and Washington. Though there is no direct indication of what form that may take, diplomatic retaliation is one possibility, ranging from recalling the Chinese Ambassador in Washington to expelling US Embassy staff from Beijing,” Dr Sullivan said.

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Sweden and Finland are one step closer to joining NATO

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U.S. President Joe Biden says NATO will be “more united” as Sweden and Finland edge closer to joining the alliance

The U.S. President has signed a series of documents, which are paving the way for Sweden and Finland to become the newest members of NATO.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is a military alliance, which declares an attack on one is an attack on all.

Sweden and Finland raised their hands to become the alliance’s latest members after Russian forces entered Ukraine in February.

It’s the biggest expansion of NATO since the 1990s, and will bring its membership to 32 nations.

“It was and is a watershed moment I believe in the alliance and for the greater security and stability not only of Europe and the United States but of the world.”

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN

The accession must be ratified by all existing members’ parliaments before the two countries can be protected.

“Putin thought he could break us apart when this all started. Instead, he’s getting exactly what he did not want.”

President Biden

Moscow has previously warned both countries against joining the alliance.

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China ‘doesn’t want to’ use force against Taiwan

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China’s Ambassador to Australia says the last thing China wants to do is use force against Taiwan

Xiao Qian says he can never rule out the option to use other means, and that China is ready to use those means.

It follows an intense flare up of tensions in the Taiwan Straits, after U-S Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the democratically-ruled island.

China has responded with military drills, including the tests of a ballistic missile for the first time in history.

Taiwan is also responding with defence drills, as the nation seeks to counter China’s growing offensive.

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