Previous Editions

Biden aims to wrest influence from China in Pacific islands

Published in The News, on Sep 25th, 2023, By AFP

WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden is set to host leaders of Pacific island nations with an aim of countering China’s ever-growing influence, proffering goodies ranging from an American football experience to shiny new embassies.

The summit of leaders from the 18-member Pacific Islands Forum will take place on Monday and Tuesday, one year after the first meeting, which was also in Washington.

According to senior administration officials, Biden will announce a more assertive US stance in the region, funding for infrastructure projects and strengthened maritime cooperation, in particular to fight against illegal fishing.

The forum brings together states and territories scattered across the Pacific Ocean, from Australia to sparsely populated micro-states and archipelagos. There is “no question that there is some role that the PRC has played in all this,” a senior White House official said on condition of anonymity, referring to China by the abbreviation of its formal name.

China´s “assertiveness and influence, including in this region, has been a factor that requires us to sustain our strategic focus.” China´s influence will be felt through the absence of the prime minister of the Solomon Islands, now closely aligned with Beijing.

Manasseh Sogavare, who was in New York this past week to attend the UN General Assembly, did not extend his stay in the United States. “We´re disappointed that he´s chosen not to come to this very special summit,” another White House official said.