India & The Pacific Islands
- The 51st Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) leaders’ summit held amidst escalating regional tensions on 11 July 2022, in Suva, Fiji, saw the launch of the 2050 strategy of the Blue Pacific Continent.
Challenges in the Region:
- The pacific region has become another platform for China’s rivalry with the US and its allies.
- China in recent times has substantially gained influence in the region with economic incentives and due to which China has been successful in boosting its security relations with these island countries.
- China’s increasing presence in the region has unnerved the US and has caused alarm in Australia and New Zealand—both countries closely involved in the politics and development of Pacific islands.
- It is a matter of fact that the amount of trade between China and the ten Pacific Island Countries (PICs) has increased 30 times from 1992 to 2021.
- China is one of the top three lenders to the Pacific Islands, after the Asian Development Bank.
- Apart from the economic aid given by China, it has also completed some significant infrastructure projects in this region.
The US Factor:
- The US has been a longstanding development partner of the PICs, having established the ‘South Pacific Tuna Treaty’, which has been a pillar of political and economic cooperation between the US and the Pacific Islands for the past 33 years.
- A new forum called Partners in the Blue Pacific (PBP) was established recently by US and its allies and partners—Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.
- The South Pacific has occupied an important place in India’s foreign policy.
- India in multilateral fora like the UN and COP26 has been leading the conversation on climate change and its repercussions on low-income countries.
- There are many areas where India’s potential role as a stabiliser and capacity-builder for the PIC can be leveraged.
Source The Hindu