(CU)_As the China’s security deal with Solomon Islands continue to make headlines, several regional partners have expressed their concern over Beijing’s efforts to widen its influence in the Pacific. They are drawing comparisons with the militarisation of the South China Sea and just like the Biden administration, Republican senators appear to share the same concerns.
Speaking to the Australian Financial Review on Tuesday, a group of senior US senators said Washington, together with Australia, should strengthen its diplomatic ties in the Pacific in order to fend of growing Chinese influence in the region. Vice-chairman of the US Select Committee on Intelligence and ranking member of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee, Senator Marco Rubio, is of the view that the region has been dangerously neglected by the US.
“While this and previous administrations ignored the Pacific islands, the Chinese Communist Party quietly worked to claim the allegiance of our partners in this critical area,” he said. “In the years to come, it will be more important than ever for the United States to work closely with Australia to prevent the CCP from establishing a military presence that threatens us and our allies… The Chinese Communist Party plans to establish hegemony first in the region and, eventually, the world. We must push back.”
Meanwhile, another Republican Senator Josh Hawley, who sits on the US Armed Services committee, noted that Australia is expected to play a critical role as Washington continues to become forward leaning in its involvement in the region. “Going forward, it’s important for the United States to adopt a forward posture in the Indo-Pacific region and Australia’s participation in that, I think, is really important,” he said, adding that “our relationship with Australia is absolutely vital.” “As we focus on the threat that China poses – China is America’s number one security threat and number one economic threat – the alliance with Australia is going to be truly a cornerstone alliance,” the Senator said.