U.S., China Discuss Influence In Pacific Region
“The State Department says the week-and-a-half-long trip is intended to emphasize a strong, long-term U.S. focus on the entire Asia-Pacific region.”
Clinton announced that the U.S. will devote more than $32 million to new programs on a wide range of issues, such as sustainable development, climate change and marine production, according to the Chicago Tribune. She also emphasized the U.S.’s commitment to security in the Pacific – the U.S. Coast Guard has formal agreements with nine of the Pacific Island nations.
However, Clinton’s visit to the Pacific is also being analyzed in terms of China’s increasing influence over the nations of the region, and the U.S.’s desire to strengthen its own influence in the area.
Although, as Reuters reports, Clinton “played down growing perceptions of a U.S.-China rivalry in the region, declaring ‘the Pacific is big enough for all of us’ and dismissing the notion that expanded U.S. activity was ‘a hedge against particular countries,’ she did criticize the nature of China’s investment in the region. She said of China:
“We want to see them play a positive role in marine navigation and maritime security issues. We want to see them contribute to sustainable development for the people of the Pacific.”
She explained that China needs to distribute its aid in a “fair and transparent way.”
Clinton, addressing the question of U.S. motives in the region, said:
“We think it is important for the Pacific Island nations to have good relationships with as many partners as possible, and that includes China as well as the United States.
“We think that there's a great opportunity to work with China and we're going to be looking for more ways to do that.”
The Chicago Tribune reports:
“China's Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai is also attending the Pacific forum and told reporters Beijing's presence in the Pacific was not about geo-political influence.
“‘We are here in this region not to seek any particular influence, still less dominance,’” Cui told a news conference before Clinton made her remarks.”
Clinton will visit China next week.