A two-day summit between US President Joe Biden and Pacific Island leaders will begin today in Washington D.C.
The meeting is the culmination of Biden administration directives aimed at reasserting US influence and limiting Chinese geopolitical prospects in the South Pacific. Previously, Vice President Kamala Harris attended the Pacific Islands Forum in Fiji this past July and US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman’s August trip brought her to Samoa, Tonga, and the Solomon Islands.
Expect the largest issue of the summit to be climate change, especially as seven Pacific Island nations attended a climate change dialogue in Beijing earlier in September. While US democratic posturing is assured, look for the Biden administration to avoid blaming or attacking China during the summit due to China’s close relations with several Pacific Island nations.
While an immediate and substantial financial commitment to combatting climate change in the Pacific is doubtful, the US will likely respond to the concerns of Pacific Island leaders in two concrete ways. First, by promising to bring the US Peace Corp back to the Pacific Islands and, second, by investing in the protection and management of coastal and collective Pacific Island fisheries, the backbone of many Pacific Island economies.
Scott is an Analyst at Foreign Brief and a Project Manager at Management Systems International (MSI) managing operations for overseas contracts in their Africa and Eastern Europe (EE) Division. Previously, he was a Program Associate at ABA ROLI supporting their East Africa program unit. His specific interests are geopolitics, regional conflict and governance, and political and economic developments in Sub-Saharan Africa.