Can the US Follow up on Blinken’s Pacific Islands Outreach? – The Diplomat
By Patricia O’Brien February 18, 2022
With Blinken’s trip to Fiji, the Biden administration wanted to signal a renewed focus on the Pacific Islands. It will take more than one trip to make that message stick.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken took care of a raft of Indo-Pacific regional business during his express trip to Melbourne, Fiji, and Hawai’i last week. Conducted while the Beijing Winter Olympics were underway and amid fears of an imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine, Blinken’s visit was the Biden administration’s first cabinet-level visit to the Pacific Islands. Ukraine, and moreover China, were very much in mind during Blinken’s brief visit to Fiji on February 12, when he became the first U.S. secretary of state to make the trip in 36 years.
Blinken’s Fiji meetings also came just after the release of the Biden administration’s Indo-Pacific Strategy document, which highlights the pervasive U.S. concerns about China. The shadows in the Pacific cast by an assertive and very active China, which has recently been using humanitarian aid missions to the Solomon Islands and Tonga as a means to advance a military agenda, were evident throughout the meetings in Fiji.
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