Pacific Islands Push Against Great Power Competition
Jun 20, 2022 | 10:00 GMT
(Photo by New Zealand Defense Force via Getty Images)
On June 17, Samoan Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata'afa said the Pacific Islands should look inward for security agreements and not solely rely on external powers, a comment directed at least partially at the Solomon Islands. The Solomon Islands signed a security agreement with China in April that has ignited concerns that great power competition between China and the West in the region will escalate. The West views the Pacific Islands as critically important for shipping, trade and freedom of navigation, and seeks to prevent China from expanding its sphere of influence, which would threaten U.S. security interests in the region. Most countries in the region are more concerned about issues like climate change, which presents an ever-growing threat to their economic and physical security, and as a result, they would prefer to avoid being caught in the middle of a great power struggle focused on security issues. Still, some Pacific Island nations will use their newfound leverage to obtain better trade and cooperation agreements with both sides.