US and Micronesia to Renew Strategic Pacific Pact

    Photo: Reuters/The Guardian

    The Facts

    • The US is scheduled to sign strategic pacts with Papua New Guinea and Micronesia next week as it seeks to counter Chinese influence in the Asia-Pacific region.

    • Of the three Pacific Island nations that signed the "Compact of Free Association" agreements with the US in the 1980s—Micronesia, Palau, and the Marshall Islands — Micronesia is the first to renew its pact with the Biden admin. The agreements grant the US access to the nations' territorial waters in exchange for military and economic assistance and are set to expire in 2023 and 2024.


    The Spin

    Anti-China narrative

    Beijing wants a foothold in the islands and would love nothing more than to drive a wedge between Washington and Micronesia, Palau, and the Marshall Islands. Renewing Compacts with those three states effectively puts an end to China's efforts to displace the United States as the region's dominant superpower. However, the battle for the loyalties of other Pacific Island countries remains fully in play, and Washington has long-standing strategic ties with those nations.

    Pro-China narrative

    China is ready to work with Pacific partners to implement the consensus reached by the nations' leaders, continue to expand their practical cooperation and share the benefits of economic globalization. The PRC also seeks common ground while shelving differences with other countries in promoting stability and prosperity for all. Despite baseless claims, Beijing doesn't pursue what some call "debt trap" diplomacy and, unlike the US, avoids empty promises. China is an extremely important partner for Pacific Island nations.

    Nerd narrative

    There is a 25% chance that the Solomon Islands will host a Chinese military base before 2032, according to the Metaculus prediction community.



    Establishment split

    CRITICAL

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