The Communist Party of China requested that a 10-person civilian-dressed security dispatch be allowed to enter the Solomon Islands late last year. According to a leaked document acquired by The Guardian, the security personnel were armed with pistols, rifles, machine guns, and a sniper rifle.

In the leaked document, dated December 3, 2021, the Chinese government requested that their security dispatch be allowed to enter the Solomons to guard the Chinese embassy in Honiara.

“The government of the People’s Republic of China has decided to send a plainclothes security team (10 personnel) with necessary light weapons and equipment to the Chinese Embassy in Solomon Islands. The team will be responsible for internal security and necessary escort missions outside of the Chinese Embassy,” the memo wrote.

Last November, protests broke out in the Solomon Islands, which resulted in days of rioting and looting. The parliament building and a nearby police station were attacked during the protests, as well as several Chinese-owned businesses in the capital’s Chinatown.

These riots were caused partly by Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare’s pivot from backing Taiwan to supporting China, but other issues such as economic deprivation and tension between the country’s two large provinces were also to blame. Solomon’s pivot to China was conveniently followed by a donation of $8.5 million in development funds from China.