In competition with China, Blinken to host ‘Blue Pacific’ event

© Reuters.FILE PHOTO – U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken delivers a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signing ceremony at a joint news conference with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, U.S. State Department, Washington, September 16, 202

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken will preside over the “Blue Pacific Partnership” (PBP) nations on Thursday in an effort to better coordinate efforts to fight the war in the face of competition from China, a White House official said. regional aid.

Launched in June, the group includes the US, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and the UK. India has observer status in the PBP, Kurt Campbell, the White House’s Indo-Pacific regional coordinator, said at an event in New York. Several other countries will also join, he said.

Campbell said the situation in the Pacific island countries was “more dire” than in the past.

“Their livelihoods are at stake,” he said, noting that they face “existential” threats from climate change and the severe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on tourism revenues and businesses.

“A lot of aid in the Pacific is not as coordinated as it should be. We don’t know enough about best practice. We will try to do that as we go forward, building on existing institutions and engagement in the Pacific.”

Campbell added that a number of different countries would do more diplomatic work in the Pacific “in terms of business prospects and aid and aid.”

There is an “undeniable strategic component” to increased engagement, he said.

“Over the past few years, we’ve seen a more ambitious China seeking to build a military footprint in places like the Indo-Pacific … this has caused anxiety in partners like Australia and New Zealand, and even countries in the region. all.”

The Blue Pacific event on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York will take place ahead of a September 28-29 summit planned by US President Joe Biden with Pacific island leaders, which Campbell said reflects “a clear desire to demonstrate our future. Greater commitment to the Pacific.”

He said Washington did not want to see the region locked in a “zero-sum” competition and he looked forward to a dialogue with Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare and his delegation.

“We’re going to step up our game and support various initiatives in the Pacific that will also have a positive impact on Solomon Islands,” he said. “But we’re also very clear about what our concerns are and we don’t want to see… The ability to project power from a distance.”

The U.S.-China competition for influence in the Pacific islands has intensified this year after China signed a security pact with the Solomon Islands, prompting warnings of militarization of the region.

Pacific island leaders said this month that Washington should embrace their priorities and make climate change — not superpower competition — the most urgent security priority.

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