Op eds

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced the U.S. and Pacific Islands Forum Partnership Act to combat Communist China’s aggression in the Pacific. The legislation would establish a special envoy to the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF). Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) is an original cosponsor of this legislation.

How America conducts diplomacy in the Pacific has been a long-term challenge, and we’re out of time to talk about strategic solutions without implementing them. China is putting more economic and diplomatic pressure on the Pacific Island states each day, and one of the clearest and easiest steps that Congress can take to counter this communist antagonism is to establish a special envoy to the Pacific Islands Forum,” said Kennedy.

The PIF is an international organization of Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Island nations.

Beijing recognizes that these nations are strategically located in the Pacific Ocean and has already established a special envoy to the PIF. The U.S., however, has not taken this or an equivalent diplomatic step to strengthen dialogue and cooperation with these important Pacific Island countries.

The special envoy role would require Senate confirmation. It would elevate diplomacy in the region and have accountability to Congress. A special envoy would help answer a diversity of threats from the communist regime by deepening trust and increasing dialogue on the Pacific Islands’ economic, cyber security and military concerns.

Text of the legislation is available here.