WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), along with Senators Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), introduced the bipartisan Pacific Islands Embassies Act to counter the Chinese government’s growing coercion and influence in the region by opening U.S. embassies in the Republic of Vanuatu, the Republic of Kiribati, and the Kingdom of Tonga to help reassert the U.S. as a diplomatic leader in the region. This move would enable U.S. diplomats and foreign affairs officials to deepen their relationships in the vital region and ensure their operational and physical security.
“The Indo-Pacific is a global hub for trade and security, but the Chinese Communist Party has used their power to threaten and bully the international community into compliance,” said Sen. Blackburn. “Establishing and maintaining a lasting presence in the Pacific Islands based on friendship and shared interests is a priority for the United States – and scaling up our diplomatic footprint is an important part of doing so. Additionally, countering China’s coercion of our partners in the region is essential to weakening the New Axis of Evil. This legislation strengthens these vital relationships and empowers our partners to stand up to the CCP.”
“Strong U.S. diplomacy in the Pacific is essential. We must immediately establish a robust physical diplomatic presence in these strategic island nations,” Sen. Ossoff said. “Frankly, it is malpractice that the United States didn’t take this step a decade and a half ago. Time is of the essence.”
“To confront China’s encroachment in the Pacific, we need to be diplomatically present. Our bill will help establish this vital American voice with key Pacific Island nations, demonstrating our commitment to allies and our leadership in the Indo-Pacific,” said Sen. Young.
“Our deep ties with our Pacific Island neighbors are grounded in our shared commitment to upholding the rule of law, respecting human rights, protecting marine resources, and fighting the global climate crisis. We need to strengthen those partnerships, and that starts with a full diplomatic presence in the region,” Sen. Schatz said.
“The Pacific Islands Embassies Act takes an important step forward in building strong relationships with nations of the Pacific Region,” said Sen. Hirono. “As the U.S. works to strengthen our diplomatic presence in the Indo-Pacific region, opening embassies in Vanuatu, Kiribati, and Tonga will benefit all of our nations, as well as our global partners and allies.”
Click here to read the bipartisan Pacific Islands Embassies Act