Geopolitical Competition among the Larger Powers in the Pacific

This Argument originally appeared in vol. 74, no. 2, "Microstates and Small Island States in International Affairs" (Spring/Summer 2022).

By Mihai Sora


There is strategic anxiety in both the United States and Australia about China’s increasing influence in the Pacific. Senior White House official Kurt Campbell’s remarks in January of this year that the United States may soon face a “strategic surprise”[1] in the region, referring to potential agreements and basing arrangements between Pacific Island countries and China, foreshadowed intensifying geopolitical competition in the Pacific.

In March, a draft security agreement[2] between Solomon Islands and China was leaked on social media, sparking furious international debate about China’s tactical intent in the region and the possibility that such an agreement could lead to a Chinese military base in the South Pacific. Senior Australian, U.S., and Japanese politicians flew to Solomon Islands to convince Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare not to sign the security deal with China, to no avail. A final version of the agreement was signed in April.

As the leak and subsequent signing of the agreement occurred in the midst of an Australian federal election campaign, opposition politicians and some commentators seized the opportunity to accuse the Australian government of “dropping the ball”[3] in the Pacific by letting China make inroads into a strategic space where Australia, New Zealand, and the United States had previously been the dominant security players.

China then sought to press its advantage; in May, Foreign Minister Wang Yi embarked on an eight country tour[4] of the Pacific, armed with a regional agreement proposing comprehensive policing, cyber security, political, trade, and development activities with the ten Pacific nations that recognize China. This agreement was also leaked[5] and circulated online, accompanied by a letter[6] from the President of the Federated States of Micronesia,

David Panuelo, exhorting Pacific leaders not to sign up for what he called the “single-most game-changing agreement” Pacific leaders had ever seen, which would undermine the sovereignty of Pacific countries and tug them closer into China’s orbit.

Wang put the regional agreement to the ten Pacific countries that recognize China during a China-Pacific Islands meeting—the second such meeting of this grouping—but failed to achieve consensus. However, Wang did sign several bilateral agreements with individual Pacific countries on security, development, infrastructure, and other forms of cooperation, though many of the details remain secret for now.

At the same time as Wang’s Pacific tour, the newly-elected Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong traveled to Fiji to deliver an address[7] to the Pacific. Wong announced a new Australian foreign policy in the Pacific, underpinned by recognition that climate change is the primary national security threat for Pacific countries and emphasizing a renewed focus on enhancing people-to-people links through improved labor mobility and migration pathways for the Pacific into Australia.

Pacific countries typically eschew overt geopolitical jostling in their region, particularly as this undermines their agency and, with a focus on military basing as a case in point, can distract from genuine regional priorities such as climate change and economic development. Nevertheless, geopolitical competition is well and truly part of regional dynamics and will continue to escalate as China pursues its objective of establishing itself as a regional security power.

China’s Interest in the Pacific

The strategic value of the Pacific to larger powers lies in its huge ocean territories and the utility of being able to traffic and base military assets in Pacific countries. Beyond strategic objectives, Pacific nations afford access to fishing, mineral, and logging resources and can be influential in multilateral fora when they act as a voting bloc.

China has made substantial in-roads into the Pacific in recent years. According to the Lowy Institute’s Pacific Aid Map,[8] while Australia remains the largest donor to the Pacific with $864.6 million spent in 2019 (most recent data available), China spent $169.6 million in the region, outpacing the United States at $140.1 million for that year.

However, China’s presence is more visible through the tangible deliverables of large-scale infrastructure built by Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs). Chinese construction[9] can be seen across the Pacific, most prominently in Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and Samoa. Chinese plans to upgrade air and seaport infrastructure in Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, and Vanuatu, and its intention to lease an entire island in Solomon Islands’ Central Province, drew rapid international scrutiny and assertions that China sought to establish military basing opportunities in the Pacific. China has provided weapons and equipment, and deployed military or police personnel,[10] to Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Tonga, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu.

China has also established itself as the largest trading partner of most Pacific nations, primarily through importing Pacific resources. According to The Guardian’s analysis[11] of trade data, China received more than half the total tonnes of seafood, wood, and minerals exported from the Pacific in 2019, which is more than the next ten countries combined.

Eroding diplomatic support for Taiwan among Pacific nations has been another objective for China in the region. China’s precondition for establishing diplomatic ties is that countries must cease diplomatic relations with Taiwan. With the switch of diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China by the Solomon Islands and Kiribati in 2019, Taiwan now has only four diplomatic partners left in the Pacific—the Marshall Islands, Palau, Nauru, and Tuvalu—and 14 total worldwide.

China cultivates relationships with Pacific leaders to increase its presence in the Pacific; they, in turn, seek to broaden their development partnerships and access new opportunities for economic development. Relationship building can take the form of high-level visits to the region, such as Xi Jinping’s attendance at the 2018 APEC Leaders’ Meeting, hosted in Port Moresby; Wang Yi’s Pacific tour in May this year; or invitations for Pacific leaders to visit Beijing. Over the COVID-19 period, hosting virtual meetings and leveraging the presence of Chinese diplomats on the ground in the Pacific have substituted for in-person events when high-level contact has been otherwise impossible.

The sum of China’s activity in the Pacific across aid, economic, military, and diplomatic realms has led some analysts to conclude that China aims to establish itself as the regional hegemon. During a visit to Australia in February to attend a Quad meeting, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken remarked, “To my mind, there’s little doubt that China’s ambition over time is to be the leading military, economic, diplomatic and political power not just in the region but in the world.”[12]

Renewed U.S. Attention to the Pacific

After his attendance at the Quad, Secretary Blinken visited Fiji on February 12—the first visit of a U.S. Secretary of State to the island nation in 37 years—where he met with Pacific Island leaders. This visit coincided with the release of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy,[13] the first U.S. document of its kind, which set out objectives for the region and provided an action plan for the following 12-24 months.

With this strategy, the White House said it will devote significant attention[14] to Pacific Islands. The strategy reinforces and builds on key elements of the Boosting Long-Term U.S. Engagement in the Pacific (BLUE Pacific) Act that were included as provisions in the COMPETES Act that passed[15] Congress on February 2.

Under the action plan set out in the Indo-Pacific Strategy,[16] the United States is committed to being an “indispensable partner to Pacific Island nations.” The United States intends to increase its diplomatic footprint in the Pacific, where there are currently only six U.S. embassies,[17] and intensify its climate, health, security, and development work. The White House has said it will prioritize renegotiation of the Compacts of Free Association with the North Pacific States of Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and Palau, which are due to expire in 2023 and 2024 and have otherwise stalled.[18]

The document also says the United States will expand its Coast Guard presence in the Pacific and build the defense capacity of partners in the Pacific Islands. The White House will work with Congress to fund the Pacific Deterrence Initiative and the Maritime Security Initiative, while the United States will “work with partners to establish a multilateral strategic grouping that supports Pacific Island countries.”

The United States strategy is a step in the right direction for its engagement with the Pacific. It follows Australia’s lead for enhanced engagement with the Pacific, as first articulated in the Australian Government’s 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper.[19] The paper identifies Australia’s objectives in the Pacific as promoting economic cooperation and integration, tackling security challenges, strengthening people-to-people links, skills and leadership, climate change, resilience, and a strengthened response to disasters.

These objectives underpin Australia’s Pacific Step-Up,[20] a whole-of government initiative announced in 2018 that has enjoyed bipartisan political support and ushered in a new phase of enhanced engagement for Australia in the Pacific. In this vein, the United Kingdom outlined a Pacific tilt in its policy paper “Global Britain in a Competitive Age: Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy;”[21] Japan set out its Pacific engagement towards a “free and open Indo-Pacific” in its Diplomatic Bluebook 2019;[22] and New Zealand announced its “Pacific Reset.”[23]

Australia’s model attempts to incorporate those issues that Pacific leaders themselves have identified as priorities for peace and prosperity in the region, such as human security, climate change, and economic security. While an extensive program of bilateral partnerships with individual Pacific Island nations is at the core of Australia’s Step-Up, Australia engages with the region through the Pacific’s pre-eminent regional organization, the Pacific Islands Forum.

The White House said it recognizes countries in the region want to see an affirmative U.S. strategy “that is not couched in suggesting that countries need to take sides.” However, the strategy itself identifies China as one of the “challenges” that the Indo-Pacific faces: in particular, “China’s much more assertive and aggressive behavior,” painting the Indo-Pacific as “a particularly intense region of competition” with Pacific Island nations, is included in this domain.[24]

Characterizing China as a challenge for the Pacific, when Pacific nations themselves do not subscribe to this view but are in fact pursuing closer relations with China and have resisted larger powers’ efforts at exclusivity in their foreign policies, is problematic and presents a divergence in how the United States and Pacific Island nations each define regional security.

A key element[25] of the U.S. strategy is “to compete more effectively with China, and also mak[e] sure that we’re able to responsibly manage the competition so it does not veer into conflict.” The term “competition” here can be understood to refer to systemic friction between the United States and China. Such language is a marker acknowledging this friction and clearly articulating that the United States will try to avoid overt conflict in the Pacific, something that Pacific countries and China would also seek to avoid. Secretary Blinken said one of the objectives of his visit to Fiji was to discuss with Pacific leaders how to “further our shared commitment to democracy.”[26] Yet framing the visit in terms of democratic values connected it to America’s increasing geopolitical competition with China, from which the Pacific has not been spared.

While Pacific countries share America’s democratic values, Pacific leaders do not automatically see China as a strategic threat. America’s pursuit of closer relations with Pacific Island countries cannot be a zero-sum game, whereby individual Pacific leaders are asked to choose between the United States or China. Although the White House statement accompanying the release of the Indo-Pacific Strategy explicitly acknowledges that partners will not be asked to “choose” between the United States and China, America’s objectives for the region are nevertheless framed as in competition with China.

The Destabilizing Effects of Geopolitical Competition

The increased attention that arises from geopolitical competition can be welcome for Pacific nations. But the uptick in geopolitical competition between the United States and China in the Pacific can also have a destabilizing effect on small island states and can be counter-productive to larger powers’ attempts at gaining influence in the region. There is a risk that in the to-and-fro of competition, the prosperity of Pacific nations becomes secondary.

Off the back of Secretary Blinken’s visit to Fiji, the United States  announced[27] it would build an embassy in Honiara, the capital of Solomon Islands. The Pacific Island nation of around 700,000 has been a flash point of regional competition, between the United States and Taiwan on one side and China on the other. Civil unrest broke out[28] in November 2021 in Honiara when a peaceful protest against the Prime Minister escalated.

Longstanding provincial rivalries, deep economic problems, concerns about the country’s growing links with China, and latent anti-Asian sentiment in the community coalesced into a cocktail of violence and destruction targeting Honiara’s Chinatown district, resulting in over 70 businesses being destroyed and the loss of four lives.

Solomon Islands’ decision to switch its diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in 2019 was allegedly accompanied by personal inducements[29] to politicians and promises of substantial aid[30] from China, which demanded in return that Solomon Islands sever 36 years of ties with Taiwan. The switch was met with fierce political opposition in the national parliament and criticism by authorities in the province of Malaita, which sought to maintain ties with Taiwan. A pledge[31] by the United States in 2020 of $25 million in development assistance for projects in Malaita was initially welcomed by provincial authorities but later seen by Prime Minister Sogavare as contributing to the rift between the province and the national government.

Since Solomon Islands’ switch in 2019, China has established an embassy in the country. In December 2021, China announced[32] it would deploy riot equipment and police liaison officers to Solomon Islands to help train local police at the request of the Solomon Islands Prime Minister. Following the signing of the Solomon Islands-China security deal in April, China has since begun training[33] Solomon Islands police. Australia itself has been providing capacity-building, training, and equipment to the Solomon Islands police since the early 2000s, and it is not clear how China’s training programs will sit alongside existing activities. Geopolitical competition did not trigger the rioting in Honiara. But the actions of large nations can be co-opted by local actors and can have a destabilizing effect on social cohesion in countries such as Solomon Islands, which has a history of civil conflict.

This protracted, low-intensity conflict, known locally as “the tensions,” was fought primarily between ethnic Malaitans and Guales over competition for land and scarce economic opportunities on the island of Guadalcanal, where the capital Honiara is located. Successive waves of Malaitan settlers seeking jobs and better livelihoods on Guadalcanal generated resentment and localized violence. The tensions brought the country to a standstill from 1998-2003, until the arrival of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI),[34] an Australian-led peacekeeping and nation-building project deployed from2003 until 2017.

Though a U.S. embassy in Honiara is by no means unwelcome, the United States should remain cognizant that Solomon Islands’ relationship with China is already a highly sensitive issue in this town of around 67,000 people. A diplomatic footprint and accompanying aid program will not be sufficient to displace China’s economic influence in Solomon Islands: more than 90 percent of the island nation’s extractive resources by weight were exported to China in 2019.

China’s Regional Diplomacy

Beyond pursuing closer bilateral ties, China also engages with the Pacific at a regional level. In October 2021, China hosted a Foreign Ministers’ Meeting with eight of the ten Pacific Island countries with which it has diplomatic relations represented, as well as with the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, Henry Puna. The joint statement[35] released from that forum outlined how all parties “agreed that their comprehensive strategic partnership has steadily deepened” and all parties would increase cooperation in various areas under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

China also secured some diplomatic dividends, with Pacific leaders commending “China’s major strategic achievements in containing [COVID-19].” China gained endorsements from Pacific Island leaders “of the great achievements in national construction made by the Chinese people under the leadership of the [Chinese Communist Party].” Pacific Island countries reaffirmed the One China principle and the “principle of non-interference of internal affairs in international relations.”[36]

China’s emphasis on the principle of non-interference is both self serving and resonant with Pacific leaders’ own preference to avoid external interventions on democratic governance and human rights issues. While Pacific Island countries broadly support human rights, they generally do not participate in international criticism of human rights violations and are reluctant, for example, to join the likes of the United States and Australia in calling out China’s human rights abuses against Uyghurs in Xinjiang province. In fact, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Tonga signed a joint statement[37] in June 2021 at the 47th session of the UN Human Rights Council expressing that “Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet related issues are China’s internal affairs that brook no interference by any external forces.”

Pacific nations’ participation in the 2021 forum with China and their expression of support for the BRI is illustrative of Pacific leaders’ rejection of notions of exclusivity in their international relationships.

Former Secretary of the Pacific Islands Forum Dame Meg Taylor summed this up clearly in remarks delivered[38] in 2019 at a symposium on the changing regional order in the Pacific. Taylor framed Pacific countries’ closer relations with China not in terms of choosing sides in a global contest for influence, but in terms of “access.” By this, she referred to Pacific countries’ struggle to rise out of economic dependence on traditional partners, in some cases former colonial powers. Strengthening ties with China presents opportunities to access markets, technology, financing, and infrastructure and in general to improve Pacific nations’ participation in a globalized world.

Pacific nations’ foreign policies are generally anchored in a “friends to all” principle. Additionally, the pursuit of closer relations with China occurs within the “Blue Pacific” narrative[39] endorsed by Pacific leaders in 2017. The narrative explicitly recognizes that Pacific nations are “custodians of some of the world’s richest biodiversity and marine and terrestrial resources” and that through their stewardship of the Pacific Ocean, Pacific nations must do all they can “to protect the wellbeing of Pacific peoples.” The concept of the Blue Pacific further defines identity and culture[40] in the Pacific. China’s endorsement of the Paris Agreement on climate change resonates with the Blue Pacific narrative.

Pacific Push-back

Pacific countries vehemently reject the notion that they are naive in their pursuit of independent foreign policies, or that they need to be briefed against the dangers of China. Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare told[41] his parliament in May that his country was being treated “like kindergarten students walking around with Colt .45s in our hands” after the island nation signed the security pact with China. Perceived attempts by traditional partners to suppress these growing ties are viewed as double-standards, when China itself is the largest trading partner of most countries in the world and particularly amid major donors’ calls for Pacific nations to become more self sufficient.

Moreover, Pacific leaders do not want to see a militarized region. The AUKUS[42] arrangement announced in late 2021, while heralded by some as a positive for peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region, also created some anxiety for Pacific states that have nuclear-free policies. Areas in the Pacific have historically been sites of nuclear testing (e.g., U.S. testing in the Marshall Islands and French testing between 1966-1996 in French Polynesia). The Pacific has also been a dumping ground for nuclear waste, with vocal regional criticism[43] of Japan’s announcement in 2021 that it would discharge nuclear waste from the 2011 Fukushima disaster into the Pacific Ocean. The notion of Australia deploying nuclear-powered submarines in the region, while not equivalent to discharging nuclear waste into the ocean, is nevertheless viewed with trepidation by Pacific communities.

Pacific Island nations have not been passive bystanders watching geopolitical competition unfold in their region. There has been a degree of  push-back[44] among Pacific Island leaders against the notion that the Pacific is merely a contested space—another arena in which the United States and its allies vie for influence and supremacy against China. Pacific countries have expressed frustration at how this characterization diminishes their agency and narrows understandings of the cultural and political diversity present in the region. While this competition is playing out in the Pacific, larger powers’ conversations around how to maintain security in the region have generally not involved Pacific Island countries themselves. These have tended to be discussions about the Pacific, but not with the Pacific.

The Pacific as a region has defined security and prosperity on its own terms, and in the process exercised the agency it has been at pains to remind larger powers it possesses. The 2018 Boe Declaration on Regional Security[45] is the clearest expression of this vision, prioritizing human security and identifying climate change as the single most significant threat to regional security. At the same time, the Declaration acknowledges the “increasingly complex regional security environment driven by multifaceted security challenges, and a dynamic geopolitical environment leading to an increasingly crowded and complex region.”[46]

On the global stage, years of vocal Pacific diplomacy in the international arena contributed to the Paris Agreement[47] struck at COP 21 in 2015, demonstrating unequivocally that small island nations can make their presence felt when acting as a bloc. The agreement was adopted by 196 parties in Paris and was a landmark achievement of multilateral diplomacy.

Tuvalu’s foreign minister was nominated[48] for the Nobel Peace Prize in early 2022 in recognition that his work, and that of other Pacific leaders and voices, played an important part in generating global awareness of the significance of climate change. Other Pacific leaders have previously been nominated for their climate diplomacy, including the late Tony de Brum of Marshall Islands and former President of Kiribati Anote Tong.

Pacific nations are increasingly active in generating their own security discussions, contributing research and analysis and increasingly occupying critical positions in institutions such as the Pacific Fusion Centre[49] in Vanuatu. The Centre delivers training and strategic analysis against priorities identified by Pacific Islands Forum Leaders in the Boe Declaration such as climate security, human security, environmental and resource security, transnational crime, and cybersecurity. The Centre operates under the guidance of the Pacific Islands Forum Sub-Committee on Regional Security and hosts secondees and analysts from across the Pacific. The Centre’s Director is a Micronesian national and the Associate Director is a Vanuatu national.

Pacific nations are also exercising greater agency in maintaining regional peace and prosperity through their significant contributions to regional emergency responses. The Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands from 2003 to 2017 boasted the participation of all Pacific Island Forum members. More recently, Papua New Guinea and Fiji both contributed police and military personnel to security stabilization in Solomon Islands in the wake of the unrest in late 2021. The two countries also sent personnel and supplies to support disaster recovery efforts after the volcanic eruption in Tonga in January 2022.

A Way Forward

Not all points of divergence between the United States and Australia’s strategic objectives and Pacific nations’ own aspirations to maintain “friends to all” foreign policies will be able to be resolved. But the Pacific region does not require this as a condition for ongoing close cooperation with larger powers. Maximizing the points of overlap, while reducing the points of divergence, is a viable path forward.

China has been more successful than the United States in convincing Pacific leaders that its interests in the region are broader than shaping the Pacific’s military environment. The United States should look to improve its bilateral relationships beyond just Pacific Island countries that present a strategic military advantage. An economic framework that outlines genuine trade opportunities for Pacific nations, alongside an increased diplomatic presence, would be well-received.

A focus on economic security with increased contributions from the United States and Australia to regional climate change responses, large-scale infrastructure projects, electrification and digital connectivity, and access to labor markets and migration pathways would meet headline needs for Pacific countries seeking sustainable economic development.

Geopolitical competition has had both negative and positive effects on Pacific Island countries. Strategic investments by Australia, the United States, and Japan in port infrastructure upgrades,[50] undersea internet[51] cables,[52] and telecommunications networks[53] may not have occurred without the shadow of China’s interest in these sectors in the Pacific. Likewise, the overall volume of aid to the region from Western countries has increased in line with China’s perceived strategic interest.

But all larger powers present in the region should also be aware of the negative impacts of their actions, including accusations of elite capture that contributed to political instability and rioting in Honiara, burdensome debt commitments in Tonga and Fiji, and perceptions of increased corruption around large-scale infrastructure projects being carried out by Chinese SOEs.

Australia’s long-standing role as the main resident power in the region is being challenged by China, as it seeks ever-stronger ties with Pacific countries and to become a more visible security player in the Pacific. The United States’ historical ties to the region and the intensifying geopolitical competition in the Pacific have sparked renewed interest from Washington. But the United States has a lot of ground to make up, and this process could be accelerated by leveraging Australia’s wide networks and deep on-the-ground knowledge of individual Pacific contexts.

The challenge for the United States is to convince the Pacific community that the current enhanced engagement is a permanent feature of American policy settings. This increased attention needs to be institutionalized to recover from the broad perception that it is only a reaction to China and will therefore wane in the absence of a “competitor” in the region.

While the United States and Australia are like-minded in their pursuit of the global rules-based order, there is no articulated joint U.S.-Australia strategy[54] for preserving and enhancing the regional security order. This is an opportunity to maximize the effectiveness of both countries’ efforts in the wide Pacific territories, as well as an opportunity to partner with other resident powers such as Japan and France, which have shared interests in stemming China’s efforts to reshape the regional security environment.

[1] David Brunnstrom and Kirsty Needham, “Pacific may be most likely to see ‘strategic surprise’-U.S. policymaker Campbell,” Reuters, January 10, 2022,

[2] “‘Really concerning’: China finalising security deal with Solomon Islands to base warships in the Pacific,” The Guardian, March 24, 2022,

[3] Daniel Hurst, “Australia anxious to show it didn’t ‘drop the ball’ on Pacific after China and Solomon Islands deal,” The Guardian, April 4, 2022,

[4] Grant Wyeth, “Wang Yi Tours Pacific,” Australian Foreign Affairs, June 1, 2022,

[5] Anna Powles, “Five things we learned about China’s ambitions for the Pacific from the leaked deal,” The Guardian, May 25, 2022,

[6] “FSM president warns Pacific leaders over China documents,” Radio New Zealand, May 27, 2022,

[7] Penny Wong, “A new era in Australian engagement in the Pacific,” transcript of speech at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, May 26, 2022,

[8] “Pacific Aid Map,” Lowy Institute,

[9] “China-dashboard,” Aid Data,

[10] Denghua Zhang, “China’s Military Engagement with Pacific Island Countries,” Department of Pacific Affairs, Inbrief 2020/22,

[11] Josh Nicholas, “The $3bn bargain: how China dominates Pacific mining, logging and fishing,” The Guardian, May 30, 2021,

[12] Greg Sheridan, “China Aims to Dominate the World: Blinken,” The Australian, February 11, 2022,

[13] The White House, “Indo-Pacific Strategy of the United States,” February 2022,

[14] The White House, “Background Press Call by Senior Administration Officials Previewing the U.S.’s Indo-Pacific Strategy,” February 11, 2022,

[15] Ed Case, “Boosting Long-Term Engagement In the Pacific (BLUE Pacific) Act Passes U.S. House,” Hawai’i Free Press, February 4, 2022,

[16] The White House, “Indo-Pacific Strategy of the United States,” February 2022,

[17] China has embassies in Fiji, Kiribati, Micronesia, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Vanuatu. Australia’s diplomatic presence in the Pacific surpasses that of all other countries, with 19 missions.

[18] Patricia O’Brien, “The US Is Squandering Its COFA Advantage in the Pacific,” The Diplomat, February 8, 2022,

[19] Australian Government, “Stepping up our engagement in the Pacific,” in 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper,

[20] “Pacific Step-up,” Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade,

[21] “Global Britain in a Competitive Age: the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy,” UK Cabinet Office, March 16, 2021,

[22] Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, “Chapter 2: Japan’s Foreign Policy that Takes a Panoramic Perspective of the World Map,” in Diplomatic Bluebook 2019,

[23] New Zealand Ministry Foreign Affairs and Trade, “Case Study: The Pacific Reset - A Year On,” in MFAT Annual Report 2018-2019, October 17, 2019,

[24] The White House, “Background Press Call by Senior Administration Officials Previewing the U.S.’s Indo-Pacific Strategy,” February 11, 2022,

[25] The White House, “Background Press Call.”

[26] U.S. Department of State, “Secretary Blinken to Travel to Australia, Fiji, and Hawaii,” February 4, 2022,

[27] Nick Perry, “US aims to counter China by opening Solomon Islands embassy,” AP, February 12, 2022,

[28] Mihai Sora, “Australia’s early intervention can help Solomon Islands but the roots of the conflict run deep,” The Guardian, November 26, 2021,

[29] Edward Kavanough, “When China came calling: inside the Solomon Islands switch,” The Guardian, December 7, 2019,

[30] Natalie Whiting, Christina Zhou and Kai Feng, “What does it take for China to take Taiwan’s Pacific allies? Apparently, $730 million,” ABC News, September 18, 2019,

[31] Evan Wasuka and Nazli Bahmani, “The US denies geopolitical motives are behind a massive aid increase to the Solomon Islands’ Malaita province,” ABC News, October 15, 2020,

[32] Andrew Greene, “Solomon Islands accepts Chinese offer for riot police help,” ABC News, December 23, 2021,

[33] Solomon Islands Government, “RSIPF officers undergo training conducted by PRC in Honiara,” June 12, 2022,

[34] Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands,

[35] Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Republic of Fiji, “Joint Statement of China-Pacific Island Countries Foreign Ministers’ Meeting,” October 22, 2021,

[36] Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Republic of Fiji, “Joint Statement.”

[37] Permanent Mission Of The People’s Republic Of China To The United Nations Office At Geneva And Other International Organizations In Switzerland, “Joint statement of 69 countries at the Interactive Dialogue on High Commissioner’s annual report at the 47th session of the Human Rights Council,” June 22, 2021,

[38] Ralph Regenvanu, “Opening Remarks,” transcript of speech delivered at “The China Alternative: Changing Regional Order in the Pacific Islands” Symposium, Port Vila, Vanuatu, February 8, 2019,

[39] Regenvanu, “Opening Remarks.”

[40] Henry Puna, “Statement,” transcript of speech delivered at France One Ocean Summit, High Level Plenary Session, Pacific Islands Forum, February 11, 2022,

[41] Ben Packham And Jess Malcolm, “Solomon Islands At Risk Of Invasion, Says Pm Manasseh Sogavare,” The Australian, May 5, 2022,

[42] The White House, “Joint Leaders Statement on AUKUS,” September 15, 2021,

[43] Joey Tau and Talei Luscia Mangioni, “If it’s safe, dump it in Tokyo. We in the Pacific don’t want Japan’s nuclear wastewater,” The Guardian, April 25, 2021,

[44] Pacific Elders Voice, “Statement on Climate Security,” Pasifika Environews, May 2, 2022,

[45] Pacific Islands Forum, “Boe Declaration on Regional Security,” September 5, 2018,

[46] Pacific Islands Forum, “Boe Declaration.”

[47] United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, “The Paris Agreement,”

[48] Mala Darmadi, “Tuvalu’s Foreign Minister Simon Kofe nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize,” ABC News, February 4, 2022,

[49] Pacific Fusion Center,

[50] Marise Payne, “Papua New Guinea Port repairs and upgrades to improve trade, connectivity and commercial capacity,” January 21, 2022,

[51] Global Infrastructure Hub, “Case Studies: Coral Sea Cable System,” November 30, 2022,

[52] Dubravka Voloder, “Pacific undersea cable to be funded by Australia, US and Japan,” ABC News, December 15, 2021,

[53] Mihai Sora and Jonathan Pryke, “Telstra’s Digicel Pacific challenge,” The Australian Financial Review, October 29, 2021,

[54] Jessica Collins, “An Australia-America-Pacific partnership – for and with the region,” The Interpreter, June 15, 2022,