Pacific islands come together under the watchful eyes of China and the United States

On the front line between the United States and China in the Pacific, a new pawn is swaying. Located in the middle of the ocean, Kiribati, with its huge offshore economic zone bordering the United States and Chinese investment (Beijing acquired the island nation’s only airstrip in 2021), announced the departure of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) on Monday, July 11. ). However, Washington was counting on this regional organization to which its close allies, Australia and New Zealand belonged, to counter Beijing’s expansion. The forum’s 18 nations are meeting until Thursday in Suva, Fiji’s capital.

Kurt Campbell, White House coordinator for the Indo-Pacific region, clearly stated on June 23 in Washington that Strongly support regionalism in the Pacific, particularly through existing institutions such as the Pacific Islands ForumIt was one of the priorities. In 2021, Joe Biden was the first president to address this forum, and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken toured the islands to update US strategy in the Indo-Pacific region of Fiji.

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On Tuesday, July 12th, Vice President Kamala Harris brought a new project to the table. And it announced to the FIP the appointment of the first “US Special Envoy”, as part of a “new National Pacific Island Strategy”. But also negotiations to open two embassies, in Kiribati and Tonga – after the Solomon Islands embassy, ​​moved in February. The US Fund for Economic Development and Ocean Resilience It also promised that it would triple to $600 million (about €599 million) within ten years, if Congress approves. USAID will return to Fiji.

‘Failure of the United States’

During the intervention of M.I Harris, by videoconference, the police expelled two Chinese defense attaches who had mingled with journalists in the yard designated for the press, he noted guardian.

“FSM President David Panuelo wanted the PIF to work because he feared China. Kiribati’s withdrawal after the withdrawal of the Marshall Islands shows that these two countries maintain good relations with it., deciphered by Cleo Pascal, a Canadian researcher specializing in this sector. fragile regional organization, “It is seen as a bureaucracy that serves the needs of the great powers first”has done nothing concrete in the recent major regional crises, confirms MI Pascal: COVID-19, the Solomon riots, the natural disaster that devastated Tonga, and the difficulties of governing at the University of the South Pacific, run by twelve countries in the region. It is a failure of the United States, which presented the forum as an entry point for US policy in the region. It also failed for Australia and New Zealand, which no longer had control. »

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