How blatant that US with worldwide military bases feels ‘concerns’ about other’s Pacific presence
Published: Jun 01, 2022 09:48 PM
Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

The US, whose flag flies over 750 military bases in more than 80 countries and regions, seems to be sitting on pins and needles after witnessing China sign ONE security cooperation framework agreement with the Solomon Islands. On Tuesday local time, US President Joe Biden met with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in the White House. Their "shared concern" about China's security agreement and "China's Pacific ambitions" were soon placed under the spotlight of Western media outlets. 

A sentence in their joint statement, issued by the White House, has been hyped the most in US reports - "The establishment of a persistent military presence in the Pacific by a state that does not share our values or security interests would fundamentally alter the strategic balance of the region and pose national security concerns to both our countries." 

This is gangster logic. It suggests sovereign countries in the South Pacific Ocean have no right to sign agreements with other countries. Otherwise, the "strategic balance" of the US' version will be broken. 

There is no so-called strategic balance in the South Pacific Ocean, but only US' and Australia's long-term hegemony and dominance in regional affairs. They take the South Pacific region as their own, untouchable sphere of influence and strongly oppose China-initiated programs, Xu Shanpin, an adjunct research fellow at China University of Mining and Technology, told Global Times. 

The South Pacific region used to be of military significance to Washington. During WWII, American military personnel occupied bases throughout the region as the sea front, carried out numerous nuclear bomb tests in the region, and buried radioactive waste there. "After the end of the Cold War, the significance of the region in US global strategy nosedived and Washington withdrew a large number of embassies, personnel, and economic aid," Xu said. 

The US has cast a cold eye toward the Pacific region's real needs over the past three decades, but suddenly feels shocked when seeing regional countries expand cooperation with China in increasing fields. So it launched a typical US response - stirring up trouble, driving a wedge by smearing China's intention and choreographing a so-called security threat from China. 

This time, New Zealand is roped in by the US. Ardern's visit was seen by Washington as a chance to take advantage of New Zealand and make it play a more active role in the US' Indo-Pacific Strategy. Ardern has her own agenda for the trip - advertising New Zealand products, attracting American tourists, and seeking more support from the US on issues such as fighting COIVD and climate change. There is a transactional sense when she parroted the US' "security concerns" in the Pacific region, as a way to trade for economic interests with such political echoes, Chen Hong, director of New Zealand Studies Centre and executive director of Asia Pacific Studies Centre of East China Normal University, told the Global Times.

Given that New Zealand has been trying hard to maintain its political independence with its own national interest as the guideline for its diplomatic and security policies, Washington seems to have found it a good timing to pull Wellington closer in its strategic orbit when New Zealand is trying to extricate itself from the economic slump, according to Chen. 

However, Australia should serve as a vivid example for New Zealand. Canberra messed up ties with Beijing. And the Chinese market it lost was almost in no time grasped by the US. If giving up its previous political wisdom, New Zealand may lose at both ends eventually. There have been various examples about how the US tricked and failed its allies. 

On Tuesday, Reuters reported that a senior US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Biden and Ardern discussed the need to help Pacific island countries deal with issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change.

Under what excuse does the US feel entitled to accuse China when the latter has already begun its cooperation with Pacific island countries in helping them cope with these challenges, developing the local economy and improving people's livelihood after the US turned a blind eye to the region for so long? What can the US offer anyway, when Washington is confronting a disastrous economy and chaotic domestic affairs? 

Wherever the US sets its footprint, there will be turmoil or even wars. If the US really cares about the South Pacific region, verbal expressions of concern are useless. The region needs sincere and practical help. 

The cooperation between China and New Zealand is productive and mutually beneficial. The two sides' cooperation does not have any political prerequisite attached. This is also the case with China's cooperation with other countries, in stark contrast to the US, which has been developing ties with others based on the calculation for its own political interests.

Compared to the US, which has military bases and has launched countless wars all over the world, China can hardly be called a country with "ambition." On the other hand, it is worth noting that when the US pulls its allies to its side frequently to voice "concerns," it means the hegemon is getting powerless to do it alone.