New Report | Pacific-Led Regionalism Undermined
NEW YORK, NY; September 25, 2023 – The Pacific region is uniquely challenged by the growing influence of China, the U.S. and their allies.
In a new paper, “Pacific-Led Regionalism Undermined,” the Asia Society Policy Institute’s Distinguished Fellow Dame Meg Taylor elucidates the concept of a common “Blue Pacific” identity amongst the Pacific nations and the role it can play in helping them maintain critical unity while faced with external agendas at odds with their own aspirations.
As a member of the Pacific Elders Voice, former Ambassador of Papua New Guinea to the U.S., Mexico and Canada, and the first woman to have served as the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, Dame Taylor offers a unique perspective into how the region sees itself and its path forward.
She posits that the Pacific-defined regional order faces two significant challenges: retaining control and retaining unity.
She writes: “As the global power competition unfolds around us and we find ourselves caught in the crossfire between the United States and China, our focus must remain on control and unity of our own agenda, on the formidable challenge of the climate crisis, and the development of our region. Narratives of neither the United States nor China fully align with our own. While the powers fight over which really is the new imperial or the old imperial power, the result is the same for us: dependency and militarization.”
She offers five recommendations for the Pacific region:
- Assert Its Identity and the Pacific Way. Remain steadfast in its identity and maintain a firm stance against external influence, thereby safeguarding its autonomy and strengthening its collective voice.
- Remain Friends to All in an “Ocean of Peace.” Amid pressures to choose sides, continue pragmatically engaging with both sides in a completely neutral manner to pursue the best interests of the Pacific Islands collectively.
- Continue to Progress Reforms to Regionalism. Identify and address governance, financing and geopolitical challenges, as well as subregional tensions.
- Ensure Partners Support Its Priorities. Focus on the 2050 Strategy, and stop partners from selectively supporting what aligns with their interests or dictating the region’s direction.
- Create Space for Its Own Leadership. External assistance should not stifle local ingenuity. Prioritize the region’s needs, particularly to address climate change impacts and economic development, rather than diverting focus through well-intentioned yet potentially disruptive interventions.