Guam hosts a GOP-led House committee as authorities claim Beijing is attempting to “fill perceived gaps in America’s assistance.”
The main topics of discussion in a Hilton resort on Guam, 15 hours prior to and thousands of miles from the Milwaukee stadium holding the first Republicans primary debate, were containing China and enhancing national security.
During the summer recess, the nine members of the GOP-led Congressional panel on natural resources met in the US-controlled Pacific island region for an unusual field hearing on containing China’s influence in the area.
Island nations that offer the US military close proximity to China as a condition for aid stressed that they are particularly susceptible to Chinese cyber assaults and financial exploitation as they attempt to recover from the pandemic. This is at a point when Republicans and Democrats see China as an economic and global security threat.
“A danger to the United States and our allies is located barely 2,000 miles away. In his opening remarks, the Senate GOP chairman, Bruce Westerman of Arkansas, said that the People’s Republic of China, which is ruled by the Chinese Communist party, aggressively works to damage the Democratic institutions and values that we hold dear.
As an illustration of CCP aggression in the area, Westerman cited a security breach in May in which US authorities and Microsoft discovered revealed a Chinese government-sponsored hacker gang had attacked crucial US infrastructure on Guam.
According to Westerman, there is “a clear distinction between the leadership of the PRC and all of the Chinese people who yearn for the exact same freedom that we Americans enjoy.”
In order to counter China, the Biden presidency has taken steps to increase its diplomatic presence on Pacific islands. The Solomon Islands and China inked a security agreement this spring, fueling suspicions that the CCP intended to station troops in the area permanently. Joe Biden convened the first-ever meeting of leaders from the Pacific islands in Washington last year, and he will host another one this September.
Officials from Pacific island nations said at the meeting on Thursday that although they welcome stronger ties with the US, Beijing might take advantage of any weaknesses in those connections.
Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan, a Democrat from the Northern Mariana Islands, Jim Moylan, a Republican from the island of Guam and Amata Coleman Radewagen, a Republican from American Samoa, are the three non-voting congressional representatives from the US’s Pacific island territories. All three are a part of the natural resource committee and were present at the field hearing. In particular, Westerman complimented freshman delegate Moylan for bringing the panel to Guam.
The The compacts of Freedom of Association (Cofa), which grant the US armed forces access to sensitive regions in the Pacific region in exchange for economic assistance, were finalized by the Biden administration with three island nations earlier this year: the Marshall Islands, Palau, and the freely Associated States of Micronesia.
Following an opposition from the Marshall Islands, the US designated Joseph Yun as an exclusive representative for the compact discussions. Yun was successful in renegotiating agreements with all three island countries.
“The unfortunate fact is that the United States has stopped far short of caring for us equally, fairly, and in accordance with the compact,” said Jack Ading, the Marshall Islands’ foreign minister, who had already advocated for increased US reparations for the use of nuclear weapons after World War II.
Ading asserted that the effects of the US the nuclear the explosion on Marshall Islands were equivalent to “1.7 Hiroshima in bombs every single day for 12 years,” and that this was a serious source of friction in bilateral relations that could be exploited by China.
Non-voting representatives and island officials sought to address labor as well as shortages of housing in their communities as well as call for more funding to support education, construct hospitals, and safeguard the environment, despite the majority of the panel’s questions focusing on containing China’s influence.
In order to successfully combat the influence of Chinese investment, island leaders also underlined the necessity for more US engagement.
How do we deal with that? Arnold Palacios, the independent governor of the islands of the Northern Marianas, stated, “I believe that the federal agencies have to become more actively involved, not just in rules and regulations, but also in the growth.