US disappointed by impending absence of Solomon Islands Prime Minister at summit
Published: Sep 24, 2023 10:06 PM
Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands Manasseh Sogavare Photo: VCG

Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands Manasseh Sogavare Photo: VCG

With the US expressing disappointment over the absence of Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare at its second summit with Pacific Island countries, Chinese experts said that US aid to the region does not really meet the needs of the people, but is aimed at containing China to achieve its own strategic goals.

Sogavare will not attend the second summit hosted by US President Joe Biden with leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum at the White House, which will take place on Monday and Tuesday, Reuters reported.

Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly on Friday in New York, Sogavare called for adopting China's transformative partnership model, including several initiatives China has proposed, according to the Xinhua News Agency. 

"We acknowledge and value South-South cooperation because it is less restrictive, more responsive, and is aligned to our national needs," Sogavare added.

It can be seen from this that the summit hosted by the US is increasingly losing the recognition of Pacific Island countries, Chen Hong, executive director at the Asia Pacific Studies Centre of East China Normal University, told the Global Times on Sunday.

The hosting of this summit is based on a flawed design, as the US seems to believe that summoning leaders of Pacific Island countries to the White House for a banquet will make them grateful, Chen said. "Every country has its own dignity, and for the US to think that a single summit can buy off these countries is inherently disrespectful," he said.

According to media reports, a Biden Administration official said on Saturday the US is disappointed that Sogavare does not plan to attend the summit.

The summit is part of Biden's efforts to step up engagement with Pacific Island countries where the US is in a battle for influence with China. Biden intends to reaffirm the US commitment to shared regional priorities with Pacific Islands, according to another Reuters report.

Biden hosted the first summit with 14 Pacific Island countries a year ago, after which they issued a joint declaration resolving to strengthen their partnership, as Biden pledged to more effectively coordinate with US' allies and partners to better meet the needs of the people across the Pacific.

Chen noted that the US' aim in hosting the summit is attempting to rope in Pacific Island countries, and its so-called aid is essentially a transplantation of the Western political system. Such assistance does not touch the real needs of the region, which is to improve people's livelihood and address the threat of climate change.

"The US only uses Pacific Island countries as a tool to contain and undermine the mutually beneficial cooperation with China there, and Pacific islands leaders are well aware that all the statements the US makes serve its own strategy rather than the vital interests of regional countries," Chen added.

In contrast, China has carried out practical cooperation with regional countries for win-win development. China and the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste on Saturday issued a joint statement on establishing a comprehensive strategic partnership, with the two countries agreeing to implement more concrete cooperation in industry revitalization, infrastructure development, food self-sufficiency and livelihood improvement.

This reflects a clear choice by regional countries to engage in mutually beneficial cooperation with China and is a model of South-South cooperation, Chinese experts noted.