Joe Biden, who wants to assert the American presence against China in the Pacific, announced Monday, September 25 that he officially recognized as "sovereign and independent states" two territories of the Pacific, the Cook Islands and Niue.
The US president, who receives Monday at the White House many leaders of Pacific islands, recalled in a statement that the Cook Islands had "a long history of cooperation" with the United States, and said that Niue, this small territory also called "the rock of Polynesia", played "an important and constructive role" in the Pacific, especially in the fight against climate change.
Niue, a tiny autonomous state, populated by only 1700 inhabitants and in free association with New Zealand, has just launched an original initiative to protect its ecosystem: offer to sponsor, for 140 euros, the protection of one km² of the Pacific. Regarding the Cook Islands, Joe Biden recalled in his statement that the United States had built airport runways there. The official recognition of this archipelago of some 17,000 inhabitants should, according to the White House, make it possible in particular to better fight against illegal fishing, and also against climate change, two concerns common to many micro-states of the Pacific.
The US president organizes Monday and Tuesday the second "Summit of the United States and the Pacific Islands Forum", almost a year to the day after the first edition, which also took place in Washington. The US executive is expected to announce on this occasion, according to senior officials, a stronger diplomatic footprint, infrastructure projects, and enhanced maritime cooperation. "It's obvious that China is playing a certain role in all of this, it's obvious that its ambitions and influence in this region are a reason for us to continue our strategic offensive," a senior White House official, who requested anonymity, said in an interview with reporters.