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U.S. needs to step up to China’s growing influence in Pacific- Remengesau

Koror- The United States should step up to China’s expanding economic and political influence in the Pacific, President Tommy Remengesau Jr. said ahead of his historic meeting with President Donald Trump next week.

President Remengesau, President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands Hilda C. Heine, and President of the Federated States of Micronesia David W. Panuelo are scheduled to meet President Trump at the White House on May 21, 2019.

Asked on issues he wanted to discuss with Trump, Remengesau said the US needs to consider enhancing its presence in the Pacific amid China’s growing economic and political might in the region.

“Our message and our talk with our friends from the US is that they always said that they should have a stronger US presence in the Pacific, we want to see that happen. There are so many things that the US can show leadership, as you can see China seems to be the main nation showing initiatives and aggressively coming to the Pacific and establishing their mark,” Remengesau said in an interview on Wednesday at the sideline of the United Nations Secretary General meeting with the Pacific leaders in Fiji,

Palau, FSM, and RMI have a special relationship with the U.S. through the Compact agreement, but while the three nations enjoy federal government assistance, Rememegsau said they want to see more private sector investments from America.

“Those who are closer to the United States, we are saying, establish your presence here, not just because of government federal assistance but also the private sector establish some investments here that can help with the economic growth of the islands, that will be a good thing,” he said.

The scheduled meeting of Trump and the leaders is considered historic to demonstrate “the special partnership between the United States and the Freely Associated States (FAS),” according to a statement from the United States Press Secretary.

The statement said the leaders plan to discuss the close security ties between the United States and the FAS, “their shared commitment to democracy and the rule of law, and their mutual interest in maintaining a free and open Pacific.”

The Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy is promoted by the United States together with Japan and other allies to counter China. Palau, although has reiterated that it will maintain its relationship with Taiwan, is open to economic cooperation with China.

China has been investing in hotels, restaurants in Palau and a huge chunk of the nation’s visitors since 2015 are Chinese tourists. He said Palau is “friends with everybody” and also open to tourists from China. RMI has a diplomatic relationship with Taiwan while FSM has ties with Beijing. .

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