Kiribati President Taneti Mamau Refuses To Attend Pacific Island Forum Online Meeting
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Kiribati, a small island in the Pacific Ocean, has become the site of a major conflict. President Taneti Mamau has recently been known for his alleged pro-China policy. On Tuesday, he refused to participate in the online meeting of the Pacific Island Forum. Earlier, he had expressed his intention to remove his country from this forum. This forum includes 18 countries from the 18 Pacific region.
Officials in the US and Australia have expressed the opinion that China is behind such steps of Mamau. China’s Foreign Ministry has called this allegation completely baseless. But China has recently launched a vigorous campaign to bring smaller countries of the Pacific region into its sphere of influence. This has increased its conflict with the countries of the American camp in the region.
On Tuesday, on the sidelines of the Pacific Island Forum meeting, the US announced a special package for the island countries of the region. Under this, additional assistance will be given to these islands for fishing and other works. Along with this, America will also open its embassies in these islands. After this announcement, a senior official of the Joe Biden administration told the American TV channel CNN – ‘Now America is going to increase its role on the Pacific islands.’
Earlier it was announced that US Vice President Kamala Harris would address the leaders of these countries on Wednesday. According to observers, this is probably why Kiribati withdrew from the meeting. According to American commentators, this decision of the Kiribati government has again shown the extent to which China has increased its influence in this area.
Anna Powells, senior advocate at the Center for Defense and Securities at Massey University in New Zealand, told CNN: “There are clearly regional and sub-regional equations at work here. But it is not clear what President Mamau’s game plan is, what he has achieved by withdrawing Kiribati from the Forum’s meeting, and how it will benefit the people of Kiribati.
According to Professor Anne-Marie Brady, a China expert at the University of Cantbury in New Zealand itself, China’s influence is clear. He said- It seems that Kiribati was instructed not to participate in the meeting. The motive behind this is to disrupt the unity of the Pacific region at a time when the forum meeting was expected to give a collective response to China’s efforts to strike a security pact in the region.
Kiribati is a group of 33 islands in the Central Pacific. It covers an area of 35 lakh square kilometer. That is, in terms of area, it is bigger than India. The area of India is about 32 lakh 87 thousand square kilometers. The population of Kiribati is only about one lakh. Mamau was elected president for a new term in 2020. Now his image has become as the representative of China in the region.