Wellington, New Zealand — The United States is doubling its investments in the Pacific, US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said on Tuesday, concluding a five-nation visit to the region where China has made inroads.
“The future will be written here in the Pacific,” Sherman said at an agreement signing event in New Zealand’s capital, Wellington.
Critics have accused the US of neglecting the region and allowing China’s influence to flourish.
The Solomon Islands signed a security deal with China in April has alarmed many in the Pacific who fear it could lead to a military build-up. The US earlier this year announced plans to reopen an embassy in Solomons, where on Sunday Prime Minister Manasseh Sogaware left a service commemorating the Battle of Guadalcanal, which Sherman He and other dignitaries attended Were.
Sherman said that America has always been a Pacific country. He said that this has been the priority of the President. Joe Biden Officials were using “every possible vehicle” to rebuild alliances and ties around the world, and to collaborate with Pacific partners.
“And so we’re doubling down on our investments here in the Pacific,” Sherman said. “Our relationships, our partnerships, regional organizations.”
Asked whether he thinks the US or China is winning the battle for influence in the region, Sherman said he didn’t see it that way.
“It’s not so much a fight,” she said. “I think countries try to build relationships with every country that they think will help them move forward. And the United States can choose any country between us and China, or any other country and China. Doesn’t tell you to.”
She said the US wants equal opportunities and respect for the rules-based international order that was established after World War II, a system that helped China grow and that all countries should benefit from. .
Sherman said she discussed China on a range of topics in her meeting with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Sherman signed agreements to collaborate more closely with New Zealand on space missions and emergency management. It was the final stop of a journey that took her to Samoa, Tonga, the Solomon Islands and Australia.
Sherman spoke more about Solomon’s decision to stay away from Sunday’s Guadalcanal commemoration of the prime minister.
“I told him I was sorry for him because I felt he missed an opportunity to enhance the strong partnership and fight for independence that allowed the Solomon Islands to exist as it is today,” she said.