US touts $810M for Pacific islands to help fend off China, some for Solomons

The new “Pacific Partnership Strategy” released by the White House points at “pressure and economic coercion by the People’s Republic of China, which risks undermining the peace, prosperity, and security of the region, and by extension, of the United States” as a key factor driving American policy in the region.

“These challenges demand renewed U.S. engagement across the full Pacific Islands region. To that end, President Biden is elevating broader and deeper engagement with the Pacific Islands as a priority of U.S. foreign policy. This national strategy – the first-ever from the U.S. government dedicated to the Pacific Islands – both reflects and advances that commitment,” it says.

It also makes clear how important climate change is to the Pacific islands, who believe they face an existential threat from the increasingly severe storms and the rising sea levels in the region.

“In this decisive decade, we will draw ourselves closer to the Pacific Islands, individually and regionally; coordinate more efficiently with our allies and partners; and create opportunities and work together to address threats to the region—the climate crisis most of all,” the strategy says.

The document states the basic American approach to the Pacific islands this way:

“The foundation of our engagement in the Pacific Islands must be strong ties between the United States and the Pacific Islands, individually and collectively. We recognize that, as a committed partner to the Pacific, we must enhance our enduring relationships, especially with the Republic of Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia, with which we have Compacts of Free Association. Doing so requires a substantial increase in the overall U.S. diplomatic presence and engagement in the region through new embassies, additional personnel from across the U.S. government, and enhanced U.S. Coast Guard and defense engagements.”

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