US secretary of state warns Pacific leaders about ‘coercion’ in veiled swipe at China

Antony Blinken takes a shot at Beijing’s growing influence with rallying call for ‘international rules-based order’

image US secretary of state Anthony Blinken said Pacific countries should be able to make choices ‘without fear of retribution’.

The US secretary of state has warned leaders of Pacific countries about “threats to the rules-based international order” and “economic coercion”, in what appears to be a veiled swipe at China’s growing influence in the region.

Antony Blinken was addressing leaders and their delegates from 11 Pacific countries and territories including Fiji, Solomon Islands, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, French Polynesia, Palau and Marshall Islands as part of the Pacific Islands Conference of Leaders, which is held in Hawaii.

Blinken reiterated US support for Pacific island nations as they face the “shared challenges that we have to confront together”, including Covid-19 and the climate crisis. He also appeared to make a criticism of Australia’s action on the climate crisis, calling for “all countries, particularly the biggest emitters, to swiftly and dramatically reduce emissions.”

But the main focus of his televised address was China’s growing influence in the region.

“Economic coercion across the region is on the rise. The US is all for more development and investment in the islands, but that investment should adhere to international standards for environmentally and socially sustainable development and should be pursued transparently, with public consultation,” he said. “And every country, no matter its size, should always be able to make choices without fear of retribution.”

Jonathan Pryke, director of the Lowy Institute’s Pacific Islands Program in Australia, said it was “pretty obvious” who Blinken had in his sights during the speech.

“There’s only one country that is engaging in the Pacific in a big way in the past few decades that isn’t part of the traditional club and that is China,” he said. “It’s very thinly veiled who he is talking about when he’s talking about economic coercion.”

China has deepened its connections with governments across the Pacific in the last few decades, amid a soft power push that sees it rivalling the influence of Australia.

China has engaged in significant lending to Pacific countries, as well as paying for massive infrastructure projects. A report in 2018 found that Papua New Guinea, the largest country in the Pacific Islands with a population of roughly nine million, had been accepting unaffordable Chinese loans, and in 2019, Papua New Guinea asked China to refinance its entire government debt, a request that marked a “significant shift” in regional politics, according to Pacific analysts.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jun/02/antony-blinken-warns-pacific-leaders-about-coercion-in-veiled-swipe-at-china

Comments

  • That's good but not enough. That's why I missed Trump. He would not beat around the bush. What US needs to do is to be more aggressive in preventing China to bribe its way into the Pacific Islands region like they are about to do with the transshipment of their goods in the FSM.
  • Trump was "aggressive" with China? Hardly. More like he kowtowed to China.

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    Just like he was "aggressive" with Russia? lol He was Putin's puppet. Still is, actually.

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  • you must be a far-left democrat.
  • Trump was able and brave enough to call the covid-19 virus a China virus while Biden and the Democrats were afraid even to mentioned China's name. We should face the fact that China's intention is to control the world including the FSM.
  • Also, as we all know, China is a communist country and there is no freedom for its people. When they come to FSM, they will take things by force as proven by what they are doing in the South China Sea. So don't be fool by the green papers and the smiles, but within them, they are evils.
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