By Spy Uganda Correspondent
Chinese official has rejected the United States’ accusation featured in a new White House strategy document that Beijing employs pressure on Pacific island nations.
The 16-paged document, entitled “Pacific Partnership Strategy of the United States” details a push by the Biden administration to forge stronger influence in a region that “spans nearly 15 percent of the Earth’s surface — part of an ‘ocean continent’ eight times the size of the United States.”
The strategy includes four major objectives, including building “a strong U.S.-Pacific partnership,” achieving a “united Pacific islands region connected to the world,” realizing “a resilient Pacific islands regions prepared for the climate crisis and other 21st century challenges” and supporting “empowered and prosperous Pacific islanders.”
But the effort emerges against a backdrop of intensifying competition between the U.S. and China in the region.
The strategy quoted a section of the “2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent” released in June by the Pacific Islands Forum, which stated that “we occupy a vitally significant place in global strategic terms. As a consequence, heightened geopolitical competition impacts our Member countries.”
The new White House document ties the impact language of the strategy plan to China’s economic strategy in the region.
“Increasingly, those impacts include pressure and economic coercion by the People’s Republic of China,” the White House document states, “which risks undermining the peace, prosperity, and security of the region, and by extension, of the United States.”
In response, Liu Pengyu, spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C., defended the approach of the People’s Republic to the nearby region.
“China and Pacific island countries, both in the Asia-Pacific region, are good friends and partners of mutual respect, equality, mutual benefit and common development,” Liu said. “The development of bilateral relations is not aimed at any third party. China has long provided economic and technical assistance to the island countries without any political strings attached.”
China has carried out more than 100 assistance projects and provided more than 200 batches of material assistance,” he said, “trained about 10,000 people in various fields for the island countries, sent 600 medical teams to the island countries and benefited 260,000 people.”
“It is nonsense to accuse China of endangering regional peace and stability,” he added.
The Pacific island region has long been a focus of China’s foreign policy. Chinese President Xi Jinping has particularly prioritized the region as of late, emphasizing that it was a mutually beneficial partnership.
“China believes that any cooperation initiative with Pacific island countries should conform to the trend of the times for peaceful development and win-win cooperation and respect the independence and sovereignty of Pacific island countries,” Liu said, “instead of serving the geopolitical needs of some major countries to maintain regional hegemony.”
A fact sheet released by the Chinese Foreign Ministry in May stated that Beijing and Pacific islands “have continued to expand exchanges and cooperation in more than 20 areas, including trade, investment, ocean affairs, environmental protection, disaster prevention and mitigation, poverty alleviation, health care, education, tourism, culture, sports and at the sub-national level.”
The release came as Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi launched a 10-day tour of the region, visiting eight countries — the Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and Timor Leste.