Blinken Criticizes China During Tonga Visit

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The Facts

  • US Sec. of State Antony Blinken arrived in Tonga on Wednesday to dedicate the US embassy in the capital Nuku'alofa. It's the first time in history that a US Sec. of State has visited the South Pacific island nation as Washington moves to balance against China's regional efforts.

  • In a meeting with reporters, Blinken said that the US doesn't object to China's engagement with the region, but that there are concerns about the transparency and sustainability of PRC investments. Examples cited by Blinken of China's "problematic behaviour" [sic] include the militarization of the South China Sea and allegations of economic coercion.

The Spin

Pro-China narrative

The US has ignored Pacific Island nations for decades, and only now wants to befriend them because it feels threatened by China’s growth as a major competitor on the global stage. Knowing that China has always had its best interests in mind, the nations of Oceania should continue to favor relations with China while telling the US to stay in its own hemisphere.

Anti-China narrative

One only needs to look at China's treatment of Taiwan to understand the threat it poses to other islands in the region. As the PRC grows its military and political presence outside of its borders, China is a threat to the autonomy of many of its neighbors, the US must refocus on the Pacific to provide security and diplomatic alternatives in the strategically important South Pacific.

Narrative C

None of the powers with an eye on Oceania — including the US and China — are taking the true security concerns of the Pacific Islands seriously. The region is threatened by severe climate impacts, but Beijing and Washington are more concerned with their own geopolitical interests. The Pacific Island nations are uninterested in being part of an imperial game that ignores their real issues.

Establishment split



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