The southeastern reaches of the Indo-Pacific and its island nations, since 2017, have been under the active radar of the PLA. The mission is to convert several of these countries into a state of subservience to the PLA, in the manner Pakistan under the heel of its military has become. An investigation into matters concerning Palau was carried out by analysts of those democracies wary of the way in which the CCP leadership is working on converting the island nations of the southeastern reaches of the Indo-Pacific into vassal states. Their findings deserve greater prominence than has hitherto taken place in a situation where even staunch US allies such as Australia and New Zealand are far more concerned with developments in faraway Ukraine than in their immediate neighbourhood. Indeed, focusing on Moscow rather than on Beijing is helpful to Prime Ministers Ardern and Albanese, focused as they are on trying to widen the trade surplus that they enjoy with the PRC rather than take in the potential consequences of China ever displacing the US as the predominant military and political force in the Info-Pacific. Both Australia as well as New Zealand consider themselves to be the tutors and nannies of the island countries in the southeastern Indo-Pacific, yet neither seems to have shown much concern about the way in which Communist China has displaced them in a majority of the island nations scattered throughout the region. In the Solomon Islands, for example, President Sogavare (who is as embarrassingly subservient to the interests of the PRC as is Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in Pakistan) was given a generous supply of automatic and other handguns whose target is the province of Malaita. Its Premier Daniel Suidani has been chafing at the manner in which Sogavare is reducing the status of a once proud country into a vassal state. When Suidani requested medical attention in Australia, that was refused unless an extortionate amount of money was paid for the treatment. Suidani was treated without any of the courtesies attached to high political office. For the New Zealand and Australian authorities, high political office in the island states of the region do not seem to matter, and hence everyday VIP protocol is given the go by when those holding high office in these very consequential countries stop by. Such neglect of elementary courtesies such as providing hospitality and medical treatment to holders of high office in such countries by Auckland and Canberra has been a boon to Beijing, which makes sure that similar visitors to that country are treated as VIPs just as those from larger countries are.
Returning to Palau, a country of just 18,500 people, several hundred PRC citizens began landing there from 2017 onwards, the year when CCP General Secretary Xi activated plans to ensure dominance in the Indo-Pacific. They began to buy houses and establishments in the largest city of that country, Koror. What they were doing in Palau was not clear, as most remained inside their dwellings throughout the day, getting food delivered to their doorsteps each day. It later transpired that many of them were looking after illegal online gambling rackets masterminded by handlers back home in the PRC. Business must have been good, as soon the Chinese settlers acquired cars and two-wheelers, which they drove in a style ignoring traffic rules, as though they controlled Palau and therefore did not need to obey local laws. Tattoos familiar to those researching on Chinese triads and gangsters began to appear in streets across the country. By 2019, Palau authorities had had enough. Raids were launched that uncovered the illegal gambling racket. Rather than being jailed, the gangsters were deported back to China. It must not be forgotten that Palau was once a dependency of the US, and that those holding a Palau passport do not need a visa to enter the US or several other western countries as well. Very convenient for those settling in Palau, a country that became free only in 1994 and where US dollars are an accepted medium of exchange. It is one of 14 countries worldwide that still recognise the Republic of China (Taiwan) and not the PRC. No surprise that visitors from the PRC far outnumber citizens of Australia, New Zealand and the US in these island countries, only four of which remain that have diplomatic relations not with Beijing but with Taipei. Over the past few years, countries strategically situated such as the Solomon Islands and Kiribati have switched from Taipei to Beijing, with obvious impact on US and allied influence in the region. Neither Washington nor Auckland nor Canberra appears concerned by the fact of so many triad elements settling in a region vital to the security of the Indo-Pacific. There has been a steep increase across the world in online frauds having a link with triads, and evidence suggests that many of these are located within the southeastern Indo-Pacific. Meanwhile, Washington, Auckland and Australia lose ground steadily to Beijing in terms of influence in such countries. Palau has so far resisted such a takeover, while more than a few others have not. The warning bell sounded by Palau needs to be heard before this corner of the Indo-Pacific becomes a PRC lake.