The first US-Pacific Island Country Summit was held in Washington on September 28 and 29 with leaders and representatives from 14 Pacific Island countries taking part in it. This is the first time that Pacific Island countries have received an invitation from Washington collectively. The US has carried out high-profile propaganda, repeatedly hyping the summit as a “milestone.” However, public opinion generally believes that this is an “unprecedented diplomatic effort” made by the US to counter China, while at the same time, some island countries are already worried about being forced to take sides.
Washington exaggerated the significance of this summit. This is a new move of a series of actions taken by the US to win over the region since last year after Washington began to take the friendly exchanges between China and the Pacific Island countries as a thorn. According to Kurt Campbell, coordinator for Indo-Pacific Affairs of the National Security Council, “the purpose [of the summit] is not just to listen to Pacific leaders, but to put tremendous resources on the table.” At the summit, US President Joe Biden announced $810 million in new funding for Pacific Island countries to “meet priorities.”
It’s a good thing if Washington can really deliver on its promises. But based on past experiences, the US has too low international reputation for honoring commitments. What’s more worthy of vigilance is that various political conditions have always been attached to the US aid commitments. It’s known to all that the US’ sudden attention paid to the Pacific Island countries is not out of conscience. The US has its own strategic purpose. In recent years, the rapid development of mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Pacific Island countries has become a thorn in the side of the US and it’s eager to remove it.
In other words, getting assistance from the US is always at the expense of a country’s dignity and part of its sovereignty. On the eve of the summit, a think tank funded by the US Congress released a report. It said the Pacific Islands “are an important strategic buffer between US defense assets in Guam and Hawaii and East Asian littoral waters.” According to the report, if Beijing were to “succeed in bringing one of these states into its sphere, it would imperil US military capabilities in a strategically vital geographic command area.” The US wants to make Pacific Island countries be deeply grateful for its “kindness,” bow to it and serve as pawns in its Indo-Pacific Strategy by offering them petty favors, which is the greatest disrespect for the Pacific Island countries.