Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: U.S. to open new embassies in Pacific

The United States said Tuesday it would expand its diplomatic presence in the Pacific, as it seeks to counter the growing influence of China in a region of intensifying great-power rivalry. The new efforts, which will be announced by Vice President Harris during a virtual address to leaders at the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) in Fiji, will include two additional U.S. embassies and a tripling of some aid, among other measures. The diplomatic push comes amid concerns that China has supplanted the United States as the friend of choice for some Pacific island nations. China struck a security agreement with the Solomon Islands in April despite American objections. And the Chinese foreign minister recently signed several other bilateral agreements during an eight-country tour of the region. The new diplomatic initiatives come as the United States tries to restore some of its influence in the region. “We are significantly stepping up our game in the Pacific islands,” said a senior administration official who spoke to reporters on the condition of anonymity ahead of the vice president’s PIF appearance. The official said the United States is not asking Pacific island nations to choose between it and China. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/07/12/kamala-harris-pacific-islands-us-china/) The Biden administration has sought to shift American focus from the Middle East to Asia. It has withdrawn U.S. troops from Afghanistan, ramped up the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue with Japan, Australia and India, and launched the AUKUS pact with Britain and Australia, which, like the Quad, is seen as a countermeasure to China’s growing military assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific.

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