story

US Unveils 'Big-Dollar' Deal with Pacific Island Nations

    US Unveils 'Big-Dollar' Deal with Pacific Island Nations
    Last updated Nov 04, 2022
    Image credit: Reuters [via Al Jazeera]

    Facts

    • On Thursday, the White House launched a Pacific strategy aimed at strengthening US engagement with Pacific Island nations. The initiative focuses on climate change and maritime security while expanding US diplomatic presence in the region.[1]
    • The plan strives to make an $810M investment to expand programs to aid the region. Leaders reportedly endorsed an 11-point vision statement committing to joint activities.[2]
    • This 'big dollar' deal comes as US Pres. Biden hosts leaders representing 14 island nations for two days at the White House. A major objective is to counter China's growing influence in the region.[3]
    • Although leaked documents had suggested disagreement between the Solomon Islands and Micronesian nations on the eve of the summit, a US official reportedly claimed that all leaders agreed with the US-proposed partnership deal.[4]
    • Plans for the summit were announced earlier in September after the Solomon Islands previously struck a security pact with China in April, and urged the US not to send naval vessels to its waters. Leaders and representatives from 14 countries, including the Solomon Islands, are attending the summit.[5]
    • The Biden admin. has deepened engagement with Pacific Island countries - sending official delegations, announcing plans to open embassies in Kiribati, Solomon Islands, and Tonga, and encouraging cooperation on key issues.[5]

    Spin

    Establishment-critical narrative

    This summit is doomed to fail. The US approach to the Pacific Islands is disjointed - motivated only by the fear of China's regional influence. After neglecting the "Blue Pacific Continent" for decades, the US can't deliver the needed level of assistance. Importantly, US military presence isn't wanted in Pacific Island societies.

    Pro-establishment narrative

    Beijing's influence over the South Pacific has indeed inspired Washington to redouble its regional diplomatic efforts, but the US has long been interested in Oceania. The US is a Pacific Ocean country itself and has close relationships with the "Freely Associated States" and other countries. By hosting this summit, the US is stepping up as a vital Pacific partner.

    Establishment split

    CRITICAL

    PRO