The White House will hold a two-day gathering with more than a dozen Pacific island nations to deepen defense and diplomatic engagement as a rivalry with China in the region intensifies, according to The Wall Street Journal (subscription).
A new strategy: Top U.S. officials will meet with Pacific island leaders as the Biden administration builds a social and economic aid package for the islands, addressing issues such as climate change and illegal fishing. The U.S. is seeking to reinforce its relationship with the islands and limit China’s regional sway.
China’s needs: Analysts believe Beijing wants to use the islands to enrich its economic and political position in the region as tensions rise between China and the U.S.
- “A report this week by the United States Institute of Peace, a Congress-funded think tank, warned that across the Pacific region, China seeks to enhance its access to ports and exclusive economic zones, frustrate U.S. efforts to establish military buffer zones, increase intelligence-gathering and surveillance capabilities and promote the Chinese model of political and economic development.”
Background: The summit comes following a diplomatic tussle earlier this year over the Solomon Islands, whose leader inked a defense pact with China prompting backlash and concern from the U.S., Australia and others.
Getting involved: “Efforts to step up U.S. involvement in the region started in the Trump administration and have picked up pace under Mr. Biden. Earlier this year, Mr. Blinken was the first secretary of state to visit Fiji in 36 years. Deputy Secretary Wendy Sherman traveled to the Solomon Islands in August to meet with [Prime Minister] Sogavare and highlight the U.S. longstanding ties to the region.”