U.S. steps up its presence in the Pacific to counter China’s influence

The United States announced Tuesday a new strategy to prioritize foreign relations with Pacific states in a bid to counter China’s influence in the region.

In a statement, the White House has detailed that the Biden Administration intends to strengthen its partnership with the with the Pacific Islands, as the history of the Pacific Islands and the United States “are inextricably linked.”

In this way, the United States intends to counterbalance China’s influence in the region, since the Asian country would have recently reached a security agreement with the Solomon Islands, as well as with other countries in the region, ‘The Washington Post’ has reported.

“We recognize that, in recent years, the Pacific islands may not have received the diplomatic attention and support they deserve. So I’m here today to tell you directly that we’re going to change that,” U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris said at the Pacific Islands Forum.

The U.S. Vice President explained that the intention of the U.S. is to obtain a greater U.S. presence in the region, starting with the opening of new embassies: one in Tonga and another in Kiribati.

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Harris also announced that the Biden Administration will
will appoint the first U.S. envoy to the Pacific Islands Forum, and will again send the country’s Peace Corps volunteers, according to the White House brief.

“Today, I am also pleased to announce that we plan to triple U.S. funding for economic development and ocean resilience for the Pacific Islands. We will ask the U.S. Congress for an increase from 21 million euros per year to 60 million euros per year over the next 10 years,” explained Biden’s number two.

“We will engage in a transparent and constructive way, which means we will listen, collaborate and coordinate every step of the way. We will also work to empower a strong and united Pacific Islands Forum, which will strengthen its voice on the world stage as we continue to work together,” he added.

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On the other hand, Harris has referred to the climate crisis as one of the priorities of the new partnership between the United States and the Pacific Islands Forum, claiming that the states that comprise it “are on the front lines” of the consequences of global warming.

“The evidence, of course, is that sea levels are rising. The coral reefs that protect your islands and support fisheries are bleaching. And the warming of the oceans is accelerating,” the U.S. vice president detailed.

“That’s why, as we work with the world to reduce emissions, we will continue to partner with you to build resilience, support adaptation, mobilize climate finance and ensure the sustainability of fisheries and marine resources,” Harris added, announcing a plan to combat illegal fishing.

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