A new report says the US should strengthen diplomatic ties with the Free Associated States (FAS) (Palau, Marshall Islands and Micronesia) to limit Beijing’s expansionism in the Pacific.
The US Institute for Peace said Beijing sees Pacific nations as a “low investment, high reward” opportunity.
“China has not focused as much on the FAS in its efforts to build influence in the Pacific as it has on the South Pacific nations, but it is nevertheless poised to take advantage of deteriorating relations between the United States and the FAS. I am arranging.” the report said.
The institute also said Beijing is considering projecting forces beyond the “First Archipelago,” a line of major islands that includes Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines.
“As Beijing seeks to develop a true blue-water navy (one that can operate globally), the US strategic denial rights in FAS territorial waters and the forward presence enabled by US defense installations within and adjacent to FAS territory “China’s power projection and maintaining a free and open maritime corridor in the Indo-Pacific,” the Institute said.
The report also noted that the FAS as a whole is keen to avoid “excessive Chinese influence” in the region, displacing traditional international partners.
In contrast, the governments of the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Kiribati have strengthened their ties with Beijing in recent months, most notably between Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manaseh Sogavare and the Chinese Communist Party in April. security agreement signed by
The agreement will allow Chinese naval vessels, weapons and troops to be stationed in the region, providing potential militarization similar to the South China Sea.
But the FAS government has had to deal with blatant incidents of foreign interference related to Beijing.
In early September, the U.S. Department of Justice sent two naturalized Marshall Islands citizens to a multi-year money laundering and bribery program through a non-profit organization affiliated with the United Nations to help create a mini-state in the Pacific. prosecuted for doing so. Country.
Since 2016, Cary Yang and Gina Zhou have allegedly paid tens of thousands of dollars in bribes to Marshall Islands officials, including members of the Marshall Islands legislative body. Rongelap Atoll Special Administrative Region.
The special administrative region is expected to significantly change the laws of Rongelap Atoll, which consists of 61 small islands, to attract investment and tourism through tax cuts and immigration controls.
In late October 2018, Zhou is said to have provided an interest-free “loan” of $22,000 (US$14,355) to an official, although in another instance, an official was given to then-Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine. promised “revenge” against , to oppose the law.