August 6, 2019

China eyes 'authoritarian' Pacific: Pompeo

U.S Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has warned leaders of Pacific islands that China is attempting "to redraw the Pacific in its authoritarian image".

Pompeo, after concluding the Australia-U.S ministerial talks in Sydney where China's attempts to gain influence in the Pacific was on the agenda, flew to Micronesia on Monday to meet with its leader as well as those of the Marshall Islands and Palau.

The U.S has begun negotiating an extension to a national security agreement with the three island nations to grant the US military exclusive access to their airspace and territorial waters in exchange for financial assistance.

"We know China seeks to engage and to influence this region but I'm convinced that the people of the Marshall Islands, the people of Palau, and the people where we're sitting here today understand that having partners that are democratic - the United States, Australia, Japan - the other Pacific democracies are the best partnerships for the people that will continue to make their lives better in the years and decades ahead, “Pompeo said.

The agreement is due to expire in 2024.

"I am here to reaffirm the United States will help you protect your sovereignty, your security, your right to live in freedom and peace," said Pompeo, the first US Secretary of State to visit Micronesia.

"Just as we did during World War II, we will oppose any larger nation's attempt to turn the Pacific Islands into footholds for regional dominance."

SOURCE: AP/PACNEWS

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