The US gathers Pacific island nations to counterbalance China

Solomon Islands is a place that worries the countries of the Quad/Quad group (including Japan, Australia, India, and the US). Despite its pre-existing advantages, the United States is still under pressure to act diplomatically to respond to China’s moves in the region.

The US has been slow to China in the Solomon issue

Eighty years ago, the Japanese navy tried to capture the Solomon Islands, leading to the bloody battle of Guadalcanal involving the United States on the Allied side. And today, China has signed a security agreement with the Solomon Islands. The deal gives the Chinese military access to the island nation. The West views this as a threat to regional security and to US strategic interests.

The US gathers Pacific island nations to counterbalance China - 1

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (right) and his Solomon – Manele counterpart. (Photo: Reuters)

The Biden administration recently sent a high-level delegation to the Solomon Islands, but that was after the agreement between the Solomons and China was leaked. This US response is seen as a symbol of America’s defensive response to China’s actions instead of taking the initiative as a global leader.

Cooperation with allies and partners to implement the Indo-Pacific strategy is now considered an urgent task of the US in the context of China gaining many advantages diplomatically and possibly militarily. in the area.

Beyond the Solomon Islands, Beijing is expected to exert influence over the entire Indo-Pacific.

In Kiribati, through its Belt and Road initiative, China is leading the expansion of the airstrip on the strategically located Canton Island and could forge an agreement with China. This fact puts pressure on the United States, forcing it to forge closer relationships with allies and partners in the region in response to the Chinese threat.

Before attending a meeting with the leaders of the Quartet, US President Biden opened the Indo-Pacific Economic Network to strengthen and strengthen trade and economic ties in the region.

While tightening trade ties is important, the United States must also focus more on what it sees as an immediate security threat, strengthening ties with 14 islands scattered across the Thai region. Binh Duong.

America’s countermeasures

The United States already has a unique relationship with these countries. The most prominent example is the Treaty of Free Association, formalized in 1986 between the United States and the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of Palau.

Through these treaties, the United States provides financial support to those countries in the areas of education, health care, and infrastructure. Citizens of those countries are allowed to work, live, and move freely within the United States without a visa. They are also allowed to serve in the US Armed Forces, at a fairly high rate. In return, the US was allowed to have a strategic and exclusive military position in the Pacific.

However, these treaties will expire in two years. It is not yet clear whether these agreements will be renewed. If renewed, those treaties would potentially cost the US more than $200 million a year, but this figure is considered nothing compared to the geopolitical challenge from China.

Recently, the Biden administration appointed a veteran diplomat, Ambassador Joseph Yun, to take advantage of the work that the previous Trump administration had promoted to launch negotiations to renew the Free Association Treaty.

This extension has now become a top priority of the Biden administration’s policy towards the Indo-Pacific. Besides, the US may consider inviting other countries to join similar treaties. The following countries easily associate with the US: Republic of Nauru, Tuvalu and Independent Republic of Samoa. If the US reaches an agreement with these countries, they will show their initiative before China.

In addition to renewing and expanding the aforementioned treaties, the United States could strengthen its commitment to initiatives like Civilian Action Teams (with a range of construction and public health projects) and the program. vocational training programs in the region, or opening new U.S. embassies, thereby embodying American values ​​and diplomatic efforts. That is, the United States has many opportunities to strengthen cooperation in the region.

Commentators assessed that, if the US lacks initiative at this time, the US may fall into a situation of having to participate in fierce wars in countries like the Solomon Islands, as it had in the past.

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