If U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on May 26 that the U.S. administration’s approach to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is to work with its partners and defeat Beijing, such cooperation and competition. Can be seen in the way the United States and its allies do. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi responded to a recent visit to the Pacific Islands.
The King began his eight-country tour on May 26th in the Solomon Islands and ended his trip on June 4th at his last stop in Timor. He visited Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and Timor. Apart from an online visit to Micronesia, I met the leaders of the Cook Islands and Niue through a video link. Wang also chaired the Second China-Pacific Islands Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Fiji.
During his trip to the Solomon Islands, the Wang reiterated that China aimed to strengthen communication with friends in the Pacific Islands, build mutual trust, form consensus, and deepen friendship and cooperation. Foreign Minister Jeremiah Manele of the Solomon Islands said China’s support is crucial in shaping the island’s efforts to develop the economy, fight Covid-19 and improve people’s lives. Both sides have agreed to work together in the areas of agriculture, fisheries, timber, minerals, health and pandemic response, disaster mitigation work, and industrial development.
However, previous agreements between China and the Solomon Islands to strengthen cooperation have raised the eyebrows and vigilance of the United States and its Asian allies, who perceive China’s move as “aggressive.”
A more objective analysis of the agreement between China and the Solomon Islands reveals that no attempt was made by China to “militize” the Pacific Islands.
The US-Australia’s sensitivity to the Sino-Solomon Islands Agreement dates back to 2019, when the Task Force of the Solomon Islands Parliament proposed that the government switch diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China and criticized the US for ignoring it. Can the development of the local economy.
Repairing damage to the island by reopening the embassy in Honiara after the United States closed in 1993, two months before China established closer economic and security ties with the Solomon Islands in April. Did.
During his trip to Samoa, Wang Yi signed a cooperation agreement in the areas of health, education, administration, sports and agriculture.
Just before the King arrived in Fiji on May 29, Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said, “Fiji is not anyone’s backyard,” and Fiji will join any force, including the United States and Australia, to maintain its sphere of influence. Also suggested that you don’t want to be used. .. When Bainimarama met Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong, he said, “We are part of the Pacific family.” Fiji seems to be devoted to the United States in May when it joined the US-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.
On May 29, Wang Yi met Henry Puna, Secretary-General of the Pacific Islands Forum, in Suba. Mr Wang said China is ready to strengthen its dialogue with the forum and cooperate in marine ecological protection, e-commerce, and importing high-quality products into China’s large markets.
On May 30, President Xi Jinping gave a speech at the 2nd China-Pacific Islands Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, China attaches great importance to South-South cooperation, and China is working on equality for all countries, Beijing. Is a good friend who shares the same ideals and beliefs of expanding relations with the Pacific Islands, and China is keen to pursue peace, stability and development in the region.
When Wang Yi visited Tonga on June 1, he said he did not want China to “geopolitical competition” with other nations over its impact on the Pacific Islands.
When Wang Yi visited Papua New Guinea on June 3, China focused on mutual respect and common development between China and the Pacific Islands countries, and deepened cooperation in various fields such as climate change, poverty reduction, and disaster prevention. He said he had issued a position paper. Mitigation, agricultural promotion, Juncao technology (use of Juncao to grow edible and medicinal fungi and produce mushroom protein feed) and stockpile of emergency supplies.
Despite the reassurance of the king that China is indifferent to competing with other nations over the Pacific Islands, the United States and its allies responded swiftly to China’s initiative.
On June 24, the United States, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and the United Kingdom issued a statement regarding the establishment of Blue Pacific Partners (PBP), which will provide US $ 2.1 billion in development assistance to the Pacific Islands. The statement argues that such support will have effective and efficient consequences for the Pacific, “strengthen Pacific regionalism” and benefit the people of the Pacific Islands.
However, the Pacific Islands are never unified. In early July, Kiribati decided to withdraw from the Pacific Islands Forum because the forum did not adequately address the concerns of Micronesian countries. In February 2021, Micronesian leaders wanted to leave the forum after the forum’s secretary-general’s preferred candidate was ignored in favor of Polynesian diplomats. States, namely Polynesia, Micronesia, Melanesia countries. Obviously, there was a geopolitical division within the regional block of the Pacific Islands.
On July 12, US Vice President Kamala Harris delivered an important online speech at the Pacific Islands Forum, stating that “villains” are “trying to undermine the rule-based order.” Her speech appealed to the heritage and culture shared by the United States and the Pacific Islands, and vowed to deepen US involvement and partnership with the Pacific Islanders. The United States will establish two new embassies in Tonga and Kiribati. Harris said the US government will require Congress to increase from US $ 21 million annually to US $ 60 million annually over the next decade. These funds will help the Pacific Islands deal with climate resilience, marine planning, ocean security, marine conservation, and the fight against illegal fishing.
Obviously, the US competition with China is prominent in the Pacific Islands. China’s recent agreement with the Solomon Islands in April embraced cooperation in humanitarian assistance, disaster response, and maintaining social order. However, the provision that China can “visit ships, provide logistical support, make stopovers and transitions” in the Solomon Islands has caused sensitivity for the United States and its allies. The United States and Australia still consider the Pacific Islands to be a sphere of influence.
New Zealand opposes any attempt to “militize” the Pacific Islands. Still, by participating in the US-led PBP, New Zealand has probably given the image of being an integral ally in the US attempt to “contain” the rise of China. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on July 13 that New Zealand police would continue to help strengthen the capabilities and capabilities of local police in the Solomon Islands and Fiji.
Serious distrust between the United States and its allies on the one hand and China on the other is still significant and serious. Such distrust may be due to China’s military installations on several islands in the South China Sea and the highly assertive Chinese diplomacy in the Pacific Islands.
For the Pacific Islands, the US-China conflict is benefiting the island as both sides have injected more investment and humanitarian aid into the region. However, given the fact that the Pacific Islands are not fully unified, as evidenced by Kiribati’s withdrawal from the Pacific Islands Forum, attempts by US-led allies to have a profound impact on the island are traditional. Knowledge may be more complicated than you might expect. Racially speaking, some Pacific Islands, especially those governed and dominated by whites, may not want to be the “backyard” of foreign powers. Despite criticisms of China’s influence and penetration into the Pacific Islands, China, like many Pacific Islanders, was a country that was devastated by World War II. But Japan is now an integral part of a US-led ally seeking to perpetuate its influence in the Pacific Islands.
In conclusion, the US reaction to China’s assertive diplomatic activity in the Pacific Islands has been remarkable and rapid. The US policy of partnering with its allies and competing with China is easily seen in the struggle for soft power in the Pacific Islands. The beneficiaries are Pacific Islands countries and will receive significant support from the United States, its allies, and China. Dollar diplomacy has emerged as the most obvious feature of US-China competition in the Pacific Islands.