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A signal that the US still considers China a foreign policy priority

A signal that the US still considers China a foreign policy priority
Mr. Joseph Yun speaks at an event in Thailand in 2017. Photo: Reuters

Reuters news agency (UK) reported that the US State Department confirmed the appointment of Joseph Yun, a former US special envoy for North Korea under Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

This is considered a signal that the US still considers counterbalancing China a priority despite the current Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Because of the critical nature of these negotiations, President Biden has appointed Ambassador Joseph Yun to be the President’s special envoy for negotiations. We are currently engaged in negotiations to amend certain provisions of the Free Association Agreement with the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and the island nation of Palau. Completing negotiations is a priority for the current administration.”

The terms of the Free Association agreement are scheduled to expire in 2023 for Marshall and Micronesia and for Palau in 2024. Many commentators have argued that delay in renewing the provisions could be seen as a loss of rights. significant benefit to the United States at a time when China is trying to gain economic access to these three island nations.

Renewal negotiations have been underway since the administration of former President Trump. However, Marshall Islands ambassador to the US Gerald Zackios in February said talks had frozen because Washington was unable to appoint a negotiator authorized by President Biden to discuss key issues. key, including the presence of US military bases and climate change mitigation…

Representatives of the island nations assessed that the US financial support was not commensurate with its obligations, especially regarding the Marshall Islands, where the US military conducted 67 nuclear weapons tests in the period from 1946-1958 . The people of the Marshall Islands still suffer from the environmental and health impacts associated with past nuclear tests. However, the US said the issue had been resolved in previous agreements with Marshall.

Ambassador Gerald Zackios on March 22 said Marshall welcomes the appointment of Mr. Joseph Yun and looks forward to the resumption of important discussions.

Mr. Joseph Yun meanwhile said he was honored to be assigned this responsibility. Since leaving the government, Mr. Joseph Yun has taken on the role of consultant for Asia Group consulting firm.

China has recently made many economic proposals to the Pacific island nations, focusing on tourism and trade. Marshall, Micronesia and Palau all have ties to China and participate in the Belt and Road initiative.

US officials have said they believe the Russia-Ukraine conflict will not divert the US from its Indo-Pacific goals. However, many experts stress that past geopolitical crises have undermined US efforts to refocus on Asia.

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