• Daniel Kritenbrink, the top US diplomat for East Asia, told a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee Tuesday that the US will open a new embassy in Tonga later this month.[1]
  • Kritenbrink also said the US is in talks to open embassies in Vanuatu and Kiribati. Although the US currently has diplomatic relations with Vanuatu, those matters are handled by US diplomats located in Papua New Guinea.[2]
  • This marks the latest attempt by the US to strengthen its diplomatic presence in the Indo-Pacific in the face of China’s widening influence. Earlier this year, the US reopened its embassy in the Solomon Islands.[3]
  • The Solomon Islands embassy was reopened in reaction to that nation tilting closer to China by switching its diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to Beijing in 2019 and signing a broad security agreement with China last year.[3]
  • In addition, the US is working to re-establish its presence in the Marshall Islands, Palau, and the Federated States of Micronesia. The Biden admin. has requested Congress provide $7.1B in economic assistance for those three countries over the next 20 years.[4]
  • The US is also planning for Biden to possibly make a stop in Papua New Guinea on May 22 as part of a reinvigorated engagement with the Pacific Islands region.[2]


Pro-China narrative

The US has ignored Pacific 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, Pacific Island nations 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.

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 self-interests. The security and future of the Pacific must be determined by Pacific Island countries on their own.

Establishment split



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