- She said that the Pacific Island countries were glad to see more attention from the West, but they would still keep working with China.
- "The Pacific will want more than Pacific frequent flyers; they want real partnerships that get things done," she said.
Wednesday, two Indian navy ships stopped in Papua New Guinea. This shows how important the country is from a strategic point of view to the United States, China, and their friends.
An Indian embassy source said that the INS Kolkata guided missile destroyer and the INS Sahyadri frigate will stay in Port Moresby for two days. A statement from the embassy also said that the visit will “improve maritime cooperation and security in the region.” India is in charge of the G20 for the time being.
The ships will then take part in naval drills in Australia as part of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, which is made up of the United States, Japan, and Australia. On Friday, the Malabar practice starts.
The US and its allies are trying to stop Pacific island countries from forming security ties with China. This is a growing concern because of tensions over Taiwan and because China just signed a security pact with Solomon Islands. In May, PNG and Washington made a defense deal.
Leaders of the Pacific Islands, whose lands cover 40 million square km (15 million square miles) of water, have said that rising sea levels caused by climate change are their top security concern.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi went to Papua New Guinea in May. Papua New Guinea is a poor country north of Australia that has a lot of natural resources. Modi took part in a meeting of leaders from countries in the Pacific.
The heads of France and Indonesia, as well as high-level officials from the U.S. and the U.K., have all visited PNG in a short amount of time. Due to talks in Washington about the debt cap, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden had to cancel a trip.
CEO of the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, Michael Green, said that this is not the first time that the Pacific Islands have been in the news during a big change in international relations.
At the end of World War I, the islands “consumed attention” at the 1921-22 Washington Naval Treaties because of worries about Japan’s access to an undersea cable, said Green, a former top U.S. national security advisor.
“The U.S. was determined to keep the former Japanese islands out of the Communist bloc after World War II,” he said, “because they were so important to protecting the southern flank below Japan and above Australia.” He also said that the airfields and undersea lines in the Pacific Islands are once again important because of China’s rise.
The country that trades with PNG the most is China. Meg Keen, who runs a think tank called the Lowy Institute’s Pacific Islands Program, said that China’s recent push into security has “raised concern among Western countries with strong national interests in the region.”
“The U.S. is trying to get a bilateral security agreement with PNG to show that it will stay in the area and make a change for the better. So far, it has only done a few small things,” she said.
She said that the Pacific Island countries were glad to see more attention from the West, but they would still keep working with China.
“The Pacific will want more than Pacific frequent flyers; they want real partnerships that get things done,” she said.