US Set to Open Embassy in Tonga

Image copyright: AP [via The Guardian]

The Facts

  • Daniel Kritenbrink, the top US diplomat for East Asia, told a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee Tuesday that the US will open a new embassy in Tonga later this month.

  • Kritenbrink also said the US is in talks to open embassies in Vanuatu and Kiribati. Although the US currently has diplomatic relations with Vanuatu, those matters are handled by US diplomats located in Papua New Guinea.

The Spin

Pro-China narrative

The US has ignored Pacific nations for decades, and only now wants to befriend them because it feels threatened by China’s growth as a major competitor on the global stage. Knowing that China has always had its best interests in mind, Pacific Island nations should continue to favor relations with China while telling the US to stay in its own hemisphere.

Anti-China narrative

One only needs to look at China's treatment of Taiwan to understand the threat it poses to other islands in the region. As the PRC grows its military and political presence outside of its borders, China is a threat to the autonomy of many of its neighbors, the US must refocus on the Pacific to provide security and diplomatic alternatives.

Narrative C

None of the powers with an eye on Oceania — including the US and China — are taking the true security concerns of the Pacific Islands seriously. The region is threatened by severe climate impacts, but Beijing and Washington are more concerned with their own geopolitical self-interests. The security and future of the Pacific must be determined by Pacific Island countries on their own.

Sign up to our daily newsletter