The White House announced on June 24 that five countries, including the U.S., Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, have formed an informal group.
The group, named Partners in the Blue Pacific (PBP), aims to boost economic and diplomatic ties with Pacific island nations.
In the statement, the White House indicates the importance of the Pacific Islands region. While this region accounts for nearly a fifth of our planet’s surface, it is home to many urgent challenges. They include the Covide-19 pandemic and increasing pressure on the rules-based free and open international order.
The announcement noted that all members of PBP must harness collective strength through closer cooperation.
White House Indo-Pacific coordinator Kurt Campbell says he expects more high-level U.S. officials to visit this region. That is because Washington ramps up its efforts to confront China in the strategically important region, which sometimes receives lesser attention.
In recent years, Beijing has sought to increase economic, military, and diplomatic relations with Pacific island nations.
The media previously revealed that China signed a non-disclosure security agreement with the Solomon Islands. The move has raised security concerns in countries such as Australia, New Zealand, and the U.S.
The newly established PBP seems to be responding to this concern.
The White House says, “We are united in our shared determination to support a region that benefits the peoples of the Pacific. We are also united in how we realize this vision—according to principles of Pacific regionalism, sovereignty, transparency, accountability, and most of all, led and guided by the Pacific Islands.”
Besides, the Group of Seven (G7) summit will be held in Germany from June 26 to 28.
G7 leaders will discuss issues such as China’s use of forced labor in production and intellectual property theft.
U.S. officials would like to keep an eye on China. They expect G7 leaders to address China’s “coercive economic practices,” which have become even more aggressive in recent years.