Home » US’ Arrogance, Strategic Intentions to Counter China Laid Bare Amid 2nd US-Pacific Islands Summit
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US’ Arrogance, Strategic Intentions to Counter China Laid Bare Amid 2nd US-Pacific Islands Summit

The US President Joe Biden was hosting a second summit with some Pacific Island leaders in Washington on Monday. Some Chinese experts said rather than calling it a “welcome tour,” it’s more like a “brainwashing trip” as the ultimate goal of the US government is instrumentalizing and militarizing the region to serve its own interests, making it an important pivot in the southern hemisphere to weaken China’s influence while increasing US’ dominance not only economically but also in areas such as military and security. 

The meeting is expected to focus on topics such as combating illegal fishing, opening embassies, promising new investment in infrastructure and improving connectivity through undersea cables, and some of which could be used as major means to smear China, some experts said. The experts also highly doubted that the Pacific Island leaders would fall into such “China-focused narrative trap,” especially when the Solomon Islands’ leader decided to skip the summit and Vanuatu Prime Minister won’t attend it, showing that the regional countres are unwilling to take sides amid the US-China rivalry.

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare recently praised China-proposed initiatives, including the Belt and Road Initiative, Global Development Initiative, Global Security Initiative, and Global Civilization Initiative in his speech to the General Debate of the UN General Assembly. A vivid example showing that China’s cooperation with the island countries, which is based on mutual respect without imposing any political conditions, is fundamentally different from the US-led partnership that is driven by its hegemony and strategic interests, which will cause more dissatisfaction among the regional countries, some experts said. 

Promises remain unfulfilled

Biden announced on Monday to recognize Niue and Cook Island as sovereign and independent states and pledged to open diplomatic relations with them.

Biden held an inaugural summit with the leaders from the island countries at the White House a year ago and was due to meet them again in Papua New Guinea in May, but that plan was scrapped when a US debt-ceiling crisis forced Biden to cut short his Asia trip, Reuters said.

At last year’s summit with 14 Pacific Island nations, Biden’s administration pledged to help islanders fend off the so-called “economic coercion” from China, unveiling its Pacific strategy that outlines issues such as climate change and maritime security. And this year’s focus includes climate change, sustainable development, and countering illegal fishing, according to media reports. 

“The US is ramping up efforts to engage with the Pacific Islands and hold such summit for two consecutive years, which is out of growing anxiety as it has been considering China as a major challenge for its hegemonic status,” Chen Hong, executive director of the Asia Pacific Studies Centre at East China Normal University, told the Global Times on Monday. 

“The facts have proven that the cooperation with China has yielded fruitful results, winning respect and trust in the region,” he said. 

If the US truly respects island countries, the US leader should travel to the region to hold the second summit rather than asking them to go to the White House again, which also reflects US’ arrogance and strategic intentions of serving its own interests, Chen said. 

At last year’s summit, the US pledged to add $810 million in new aid for Pacific Island nations over the next decade, including $130 million on efforts to stymie the impacts of climate change, according to media reports. 

But Chinese experts said those promises are just lip service as US’ only tangible and active moves over the past year were opening new embassies in the region and sending coast guard ships to widen its presence in the region. 

Biden is set to announce the opening of new US embassies on Cook Islands and Niue on Monday, as his administration aims to show Pacific Island leaders that the US is committed to increasing US presence in the region, the AP reported on Monday. 

Washington has opened embassies in the Solomon Islands and Tonga, and wants to inaugurate one early next year in Vanuatu, the AFP said. 

Some of the leaders attended an NFL game in Baltimore on Sunday and later planned to visit a US Coast Guard cutter in the city’s harbor for a briefing on combating illegal fishing and other maritime issues, according to media report. 

The US has recently made new accusations against China on the so-called illegal fishing as in a biennial report to the US in late August, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries identified seven nations and entities, including China, for engaging in illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

Some Pacific Island countries have been maintaining good cooperation with Chinese fishing companies, and some Chinese firms also helped in local port maintenance, but the US is likely to distort such partnership by slandering China and coercing the regional countries, Chen said, who also believes that “illegal fishing” would be a topic that the US will use to attack China during the summit. 

Instrumentalizing the region

Besides the new promises in infrastructure and undersea cable, the White House intends to propose that the Pacific Island states should join the Quad, a defense cooperation forum bringing together the US, Australia, India and Japan to cooperate on maritime surveillance, the AFP said. 

Quad is considered as a main framework of Washington’s Indo-Pacific Strategy of containment and suppression against China. 

The US wants to not only extend this framework to the Pacific Islands but also promote the participation of Vietnam, South Korea and New Zealand. And the strategic importance of the Pacific Island countries has become increasingly prominent, Zhao Minghao, professor at the Institute of International Studies, Fudan University and a senior fellow at the Charhar Institute, told the Global Times on Monday. 

“On the backdrop of growing worries about a major military conflict with China, the US hopes to promote military and security relations with the Pacific Island countries,” Zhao said, noting that the US has put the Pacific Island countries into its Indo-Pacific strategic deployment, accelerating the security cooperation with other multilateral or trilateral pacts such as Quad, Aukus and the US-Japan-Philippines security ties. 

Among the Pacific Island countries, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu are actually the two countries that the US is now focusing on, Zhao said, as the US believes that China signed a security pact with the Solomon Islands while it has been hyping the so-called military base of China in Vanuatu. 

“The absence of the two leaders also showed that the island countries do not want to take sides between the US and China,” Zhao said. 

Despite how many promises the US is going to make in new investment package during this year’s summit, the ultimate goal is military presence, some experts warned. 

“If the US truly cares about the local economic development and improvement of people’s livelihoods, it should not instrumentalize the region and turn it into a military base or an ammunition depot,” Chen said.

Source : Global Times