Indo-Pacific Task Force Holds First Hearing on Deterring PRC Influence in the Region
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 14, 2023 | Committee Press Office (202-225-2761)
Tags: Indo-Pacific Task Force
Today, the House Committee on Natural Resources Indo-Pacific Task Force held its first oversight hearing on how the Compacts of Free Association (COFA) support U.S. interests and counter the People's Republic of China's (PRC) influence. Task Force Chair Amata Radewagen (R-American Samoa) and Co-Chair Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (D-CNMI) released the following statements in response:
“The Compacts of Free Association are the official recognition of the close U.S. partnerships with the Republic of Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia,” Radewagen said. “These allies share a commitment to democracy with us, and are in strategic locations in the vast Pacific Ocean. The United States must continue demonstrating our commitment to the region, especially in light of China’s ambitions, and this Committee is doing its part.”
“The Compacts are essential to America’s security posture in the Western Pacific but, we must remember the Compact nations—Palau, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia—have a choice. They can choose to renew or not. And after 35 years of free association with the U.S. these nations are still in the bottom of all nations when it comes to economic prosperity," Sablan said. "So, Congress has to offer a good deal and the U.S. must do more technical follow-up to ensure the next 20 years of free association truly result in better lives for our family and friends in the freely associated states.”
The U.S. has vital security and economic interests throughout the Indo-Pacific region, particularly amid rising competition with the PRC. The importance of the Freely Associated States (FAS) for the U.S. cannot be overstated, given the proximity to the U.S. homeland areas and the broader geopolitical context.
The PRC has continued to gain influence in the region not only through economic aid and infrastructure development, but also by attacking democratic institutions, civil society, rule of law, and lawful private free enterprise. The PRC has leveraged its resources to shape political outcomes and perceptions of the U.S. in the Indo-Pacific, and to retaliate against any Pacific nation that chooses to not align with the PRC.
To counter PRC influence and maintain the United States' capacity to secure its interests, the U.S. must remain engaged with the FAS Indo-Pacific region and respond to malign PRC coercive activity. The COFA is critical to the U.S. relationship with the FAS and for U.S. foreign policy in the Indo-Pacific.
Today's hearing was the first step in producing comprehensive policy solutions to counter the threat of the PRC's influence in the region while preserving the U.S. interests in the Indo-Pacific. The Indo-Pacific Task Force will continue to hold hearings to find these solutions.Learn more here.
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