The cancellation of President Joe Biden’s visit to Papua New Guinea (PNG) was a missed opportunity for the country and the Pacific Island nations. Despite the disappointment, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stepped in to maintain the diplomatic engagement. The signing of the security pact between the US and PNG signifies the growing interest in the Pacific region, which is caught in the middle of the US-China rivalry.
China’s increasing presence and investments in the Pacific have raised concerns among Western powers. Pacific Island nations have welcomed Chinese aid and development assistance, which have filled gaps left by the West. However, they also appreciate the renewed attention from the US and other Western countries, highlighting the need for collaboration rather than adversarial competition.
The Pacific Island nations have their own priorities, with climate change being a pressing issue. Rising sea levels, cyclones, and droughts have a severe impact on their countries. They expect the US and China, as major powers, to listen to their voices and take significant action to address climate change.
While the Pacific Island nations are pleased to have their voices heard on the global stage, they will continue to advocate for their development agendas and climate concerns. The increased interest from major powers presents an opportunity for the Pacific Islands to assert their needs and secure support for their economic and environmental goals.