The things you learn watching smaller news sources….
Malaita is one of the Solomon Islands (near Guadalcanal). It is pushing for an independence referendum. Why? Because the Solomon Islands government is indulging in Debt Trap Diplomacy with China to build a sports stadium and eventually to have a Chinese port.
Malaita is interested in a deep water port for the USA to use.
It looks like there may also be some historical animosity between the different islands too along with some cultural differences.
Then there is the point that the Solomons are free of Chinese Wuhan Covid, yet just agreed to start direct flights from China including folks to make the stadium happen. Looks to me like someone in the Solomon government really wants his kickback money and doesn’t care if it kills some old people.
So we might get a new nation shortly as Malaita gains independance.
There’s an interesting short history of it in the wiki:
Malaita is the primary island of Malaita Province in Solomon Islands. Malaita is the most populous island of the Solomon Islands, with a population of 140,000, or more than a third of the entire national population. It is also the second largest island in the country by area, after Guadalcanal. A tropical and mountainous island, Malaita’s pristine river systems and tropical forests have not been exploited.
Most local names for the island are Mala, or its dialect variants Mara or Mwala. The name Malaita or Malayta appears in the logbook of the Spanish explorers who in the 16th century visited the islands, and claimed that to be the actual name. They first saw the island from Santa Isabel, where it is called Mala. One theory is that “ita” was added on, as the Bughotu word for up or east, or in this context “there.” Bishop George Augustus Selwyn referred to it as Malanta in 1850. Mala was the name used under British control; now Malaita is used for official purposes. The name Big Malaita is also used to distinguish it from the smaller South Malaita Island.
Malaitans who had emigrated to Guadalcanal became a focus of the civil war which broke out in 1999, and the Malaita Eagle Force (MEF) was formed to protect their interest, both on Guadalcanal and on their home island. The organization of Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) has contributed to the infrastructure development of the island.
After the Solomon Islands switched diplomatic recognition to China from Taiwan in 2019, with a delegation led by prime minister Manasseh Sogavare being received with great hostility and the provincial government refusing to discuss the topics Sogavre had originally arrived to discuss, instead airing concerns over the diplomatic switch. Mass pro-Taiwan protests broke out throughout Malaita, and some protesters even demanded independence from the Solomon Islands, sparking concerns over the fragility of the government
It does look like Chinese involvement, bribes, and troubles go back a ways:
In April 2006, allegations that the newly elected Prime Minister Snyder Rini had used bribes from Chinese businessmen to buy the votes of members of Parliament led to mass rioting in the capital Honiara. A deep underlying resentment against the minority Chinese business community led to much of Chinatown in the city being destroyed. Tensions were also increased by the belief that large sums of money were being exported to China. China sent chartered aircraft to evacuate hundreds of Chinese who fled to avoid the riots. Evacuation of Australian and British citizens was on a much smaller scale. Additional Australian, New Zealand and Fijian police and troops were dispatched to try to quell the unrest. Rini eventually resigned before facing a motion of no-confidence in Parliament, and Parliament elected Manasseh Sogavare as Prime Minister.
Looks to me like the main government of the Solomon Island is willing to be bribed, while folks on Malatia don’t like being sold out. So are looking to leave before the Debt Trap closes.