The United States has labelled the behaviour of China in the Pacific as problematic. This was the response by the US Embassy in Suva, Fiji to claims by China that their friendship with the Pacific came without political conditions.
The claims were made by China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Mao Ning in the Global Times, a mouthpiece for the Chinese Communist Party.
US Embassy Suva’s First Secretary for Regional Public Affairs Stephanie Fitzmaurice said the US’s vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific excluded no nation.
She said the US welcomed contributions by the People’s Republic of China to regional development, so long as it adheres to high standards, including in areas such as transparency, rule of law, and sustainable financing, and respect for the autonomy of development aid recipients.
“However, as the PRC’s involvement in the region has grown, we have seen a range of increasingly problematic behavior, including its assertion of unlawful maritime claims and the ongoing militarization of disputed features in the South China Sea, predatory economic activities including illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, and investments that undermine good governance and promote corruption.”
Ms Ning had said that cooperation between China and the Pacific nations was to jointly overcome the fallout of the pandemic, and the vivid practice of the concept of building a community with a shared future for mankind.
She pointed out that the US Government only began their resurgence in the Pacific believing that they were losing out to China.
In response to these claims, Ms Fitzmaurice said the United States and its allies and partners have helped maintain peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region since the end of World War Two, providing stability that has facilitated economic prosperity and development.
“We recently announced that we plan to triple U.S. funding for economic development and ocean resilience for the Pacific Islands. We will request from the United States Congress an increase from $21 million per year to $60 million per year for the next 10 years,” she said.
“These funds will help strengthen climate resilience; invest in marine planning and conservation; and combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing; and enhance maritime security.”
Both China and US are increasingly showing their interest in the region. China has been slowly building partnerships with Pacific countries and has poured in millions especially with infrastructure projects.
The US resurgence in the Pacific did start after attention was put on the China-Solomon security deal but they have been present in the region as long as China.
This has led to the US opening an embassy in Kiribati and re-opening one in Honiara. In all of this, China has told the US that they will not back out of the Pacific and will continue what they have been doing.