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Biden turns to island leaders in China face-off

TL;DR

  • Biden hosts a three-day summit with Pacific Island leaders to reinforce U.S. influence and counteract China’s increasing presence in the region.
  • The summit focuses on strengthening diplomatic ties, with the U.S. recognizing the Cook Islands and Niue, while also pledging over $810 million in aid, though funds await Congress approval.
  • Mixed reactions from Pacific nations, with some leaders skipping the summit and others skeptical about becoming pawns in a U.S.-China geopolitical tug of war.

Pacific Island nations, pivotal players in geopolitical jockeying, have captured Biden’s attention, as the US aims to reinforce its influence in a region where China has made significant inroads.

The three-day summit, initiated by Biden, showcases America’s commitment to these island nations and sends an indirect message to China: the Pacific is not for sale.

Strengthening Ties with Symbolic Gestures

Reaffirming diplomatic ties, Biden’s administration will acknowledge the Cook Islands and Niue during the gathering. This strategic move not only highlights the strengthening of relationships but sends a clear message regarding America’s vision for the region: a bastion where democracy thrives, unaffected by external pressures.

Moreover, as a gesture of camaraderie and shared interests, Pacific leaders will grace an NFL game, a nod to the many NFL players of Pacific Islander descent.

This isn’t Biden’s first rodeo with the Pacific leaders. Last year, he hosted 14 Pacific Island nations, collectively solidifying their stance against China’s “economic coercion”.

This year, the focus, as revealed by the White House, ranges from tackling climate change and ensuring sustainable development to public health and curbing illegal fishing.

Infrastructure and Aid: Promises Waiting Fulfillment

In a world where money talks, promises of infrastructure development and improved internet connectivity via undersea cables seem to be Biden’s ace card. An official promise of over $810 million in support for the Pacific islands was floated in 2022.

However, Meg Keen from Australia’s Lowy Institute highlights a critical issue: Congress hasn’t given the green light for the funds yet. Keen critically observed that while Pacific nations appreciate the U.S.’s re-engagement, they don’t want to be pawns in a larger geopolitical tug of war, leading to increased militarization.

It’s worth noting, the Solomon Islands’ Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare, has decided to sit this one out. A critic might say, after his recent alignment with China – including signing security and policing agreements – Sogavare’s absence speaks volumes. Biden’s camp didn’t hide their disappointment at his decision.

In contrast, Vanuatu’s newly elected Prime Minister Sato Kilman won’t be attending either, even after his predecessor inked a security pact with the U.S. ally, Australia.

As it stands, despite China being Vanuatu’s most prominent external creditor, the US is still in discussions to inaugurate an embassy there, hoping to seal the deal by next year.

Complex Dynamics in the Pacific Chessboard

Fiji, another crucial player in the region, seems to have a positive outlook towards the U.S., viewing its heightened involvement as a means of ensuring a more secure Pacific. On the flip side, Kiribati has plans to renovate a former World War Two airstrip, with a little help from their Chinese friends.

The intricacies of these alliances reflect a complicated web of relationships, loyalties, and interests. The Marshall Islands, for instance, is still awaiting a renewed pact with the U.S., seeking additional funds to address the impacts of past U.S. nuclear tests. It’s a sensitive topic, with the Biden administration expressing confidence in reaching an agreement.

In essence, the summit is more than just a meeting. It’s a testament to Biden’s approach to handle the Pacific island nations, interwoven with China’s growing footprint in the region.

The chessboard is vast, and the game is intricate. Only time will reveal if Biden’s charm offensive will checkmate China in this Pacific showdown.

Disclaimer: The information provided is not trading advice. Cryptopolitan.com holds no liability for any investments made based on the information provided on this page. We strongly recommend independent research and/or consultation with a qualified professional before making any investment decision.

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Jai Hamid

Jai Hamid is a passionate writer with a keen interest in blockchain technology, the global economy, and literature. She dedicates most of her time to exploring the transformative potential of crypto and the dynamics of worldwide economic trends.

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