Blinken hosts ‘Blue Pacific’ event amid competition with China According to Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO – U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a joint news conference with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi after a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signing ceremony at the State Department in Washington, U.S., September 16, 202

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will host Blue Pacific Partnership (PBP) countries on Thursday with the aim of coordinating better support for the region in the face of competition from China, a White House officials said.

The group was formed in June and includes the United States, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. White House Indo-Pacific Coordinator Kurt Campbell said India has observer status with the PBP, said in a statement at an event in New York. Several other countries will also participate, he said.

Campbell said the situation for Pacific island nations is “much more dire” than it has been in the past.

“Their livelihoods are at stake,” he said, pointing to the “existential” threat they face from climate change and the severe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on revenue and business. tourism business.

“Much of the support in the Pacific isn’t as well coordinated as it could be. We haven’t learned much about best practices. We’ll look to do that as we move forward, building on the entities. existing institutions and Pacific commitments.”

A number of different countries will do more in the Pacific diplomatically “in terms of business prospects and aid and assistance,” Campbell added.

He said there was an “undeniably strategic component” to the increased commitment.

“Over the past few years, we’ve seen a more ambitious China seek to develop its military footprint and the like in the Indian Ocean … which has caused some anxiety among its partners. like Australia and New Zealand, even countries in the region as a whole.”

The Blue Pacific event, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, will take place before the September 28-29 summit, which US President Joe Biden plans to host with the leaders of the Thai islands. Pacific, which Campbell said reflects “our desire to clearly demonstrate our greater commitment to the Pacific in the future.”

He said Washington does not want to see the region fall into “zero-sum” competition and he looks forward to conversations with Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare and his delegation.

“We will be stepping up our game in terms of supporting a variety of initiatives across the Pacific that will positively affect the Solomons,” he said. “But we also made it clear what our concerns were and we didn’t want to see … the possibility of long-range power projection.”

Competition between the US and China for influence in the Pacific islands intensified this year after China signed a security deal with the Solomon Islands, prompting warnings of militarization of the region. this.

Pacific island nation leaders said this month that Washington should accept their priorities, climate change – not superpower competition – as the most pressing security task.

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