Japan, U.S. seek to expand framework to support Pacific Islands, counter China

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The Prime Minister’s Office

A five-nation grouping that includes Japan and the United States is looking to add members to its framework established in June to support Pacific Islands.

The aim of the Partners in the Blue Pacific, which also includes Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, is to counter the growing influence of China. Beijing has been providing economic support to several Pacific Island nations.

According to Japanese government sources, France, Germany and South Korea are considering to join the framework. The founding nations will hold a foreign ministers’ meeting in New York later this month, coinciding with the United Nations General Assembly, and are making arrangements to have representatives from the three nations attend the meeting as observers.

The group was established to provide support on issues important to Pacific Island nations, such as climate change. By expanding the framework, the founding nations are hoping to enhance their checks on China’s behavior.

France, which has territories in the South Pacific such as New Caledonia, is unnerved about China’s maritime expansion. Germany has compiled a diplomatic strategy for the Indo-Pacific region and is increasing its engagement in the region. South Korea is also distancing itself from China to a certain extent under the administration of new President Yoon Suk-yeol, which appears to lean toward strengthening relations with the United States.