In Solomon Islands, one of the poorest of the Pacific island nations, the government has been especially accommodating. In 2019, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan, the self-governing island that China sees as a renegade province. A few months ago, he signed a security agreement with Beijing that could allow China’s navy to use some of the same islands where around 7,000 Americans died in World War II.
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Mr. Sogavare, who met privately with American officials and did not attend Sunday’s ceremonies, has insisted no Chinese base is on the way. Nonetheless, the United States announced this year that it would reopen an embassy in Honiara, while adding embassies in Kiribati and Tonga — two other Pacific nations with a large Chinese presence.
And along with a formal diplomatic push, which Australia has also intensified, have come frequent reminders of American ties reaching to the 1940s.
Ms. Kennedy, the daughter of John F. Kennedy, and Ms. Sherman, whose father, Mal Sherman, was a Marine, recently discussed their connection to the Solomons and the war.
“We reflected on how she wouldn’t be here, I wouldn’t be here, if our fathers hadn’t been rescued,” Ms. Sherman said in an interview before the trip. It was also clear, she added, that those stories offered an opportunity for “energizing our partners.”