The United States will strengthen its presence in the Pacific, pledging to establish two new embassies, increase foreign aid and appoint the first-ever American envoy to the Pacific Islands Forum.
US Vice President Kamala Harris will make the announcement virtually on Wednesday, teleporting to the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) meeting – being held this week in Fiji – after being invited by Fijian Prime Minister and Chairman of the Frank Bainimarama forum.
In a statement, the White House said the new commitments were “to deepen America’s partnership with the region and achieve concrete results for Pacific people.”
As part of the package, two new US embassies will be built in Tonga and Kiribati.
The United States will also triple its funding for economic development and ocean resilience, bringing the total sum to US$600 million (A$893 million) over the next 10 years.
The US says its first-ever US envoy to the PIF will further increase its diplomatic footprint in the Pacific Islands.
“We already have John Kerry, who is the climate envoy and he is very well known in the Pacific and very well liked. So it would be interesting to see who they choose for this position,” said Dr Tess Newton Cain, Pacific expert at Griffith University.
Earlier this year, the United States announced its intention to which it closed in 1993.
What is the meaning of this announcement?
The US announcement comes amid heightened tensions in the Pacific region, with concerns among some Western countries that China is trying to expand its influence in the region.
China and Solomon Islands this year which raised fears that China would establish a military base there, although the and dismissed these concerns.
Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare (right) and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Source: AAP / PA
China then covering police, security, fisheries, data and a free trade zone, but that was shelved after Beijing failed to reach consensus with 10 Pacific nations.
Like Mr. Wang seeking their support, Foreign Secretary Penny Wong with the aim of “regaining Australia’s position as a partner of choice” in the region.
Departure from Kiribati BIP
Kiribati has been in the spotlight after citing a bitter leadership dispute last year over its exit.
Kiribati’s opposition leader also suggested .
China denied this.
“I would like to stress that we never interfere in the internal affairs of Pacific island countries, and I hope the island countries will strengthen solidarity and cooperation for common development,” said the Chinese Ministry of Affairs spokesperson. foreigners, Wang Wenbin.
Kiribati is the closest Pacific island nation to the United States, with Hawaii about 2,000 kilometers away.
US involvement in ‘disappointing’ forum
PIF dialogue partners, including the United States, China, the United Kingdom and France, were not invited to the 2022 summit.
Dr. Newton Cain said US participation in the forum was disappointing.
“The dialogue partners…we are told firmly and politely that the leaders of the forum really wanted this time to meet on their own, without adding distractions, without having to worry about strangers, without having to worry about being fought like some kind of prize,” she said.
“And I think it’s very disappointing that the United States was unable to respect that and sought to have a speaking slot for the vice president.”
She said PIF leaders had “pretty strongly” pushed back against a request from China to have a virtual meeting of foreign ministers on Thursday – the final day of the forum.