WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), John Kennedy (R-LA), and collogues introduced the U.S. and Pacific Islands Forum Partnership Act to promote diplomacy and combat the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) increased aggression in the Pacific. The proposed legislation would solidify the establishment of a special envoy to the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF).
“China is attempting to undermine Western values and economic ties to use for their own advantage and to the disadvantage of the United States and everyone else who values freedom,” said Dr. Cassidy. “We stand up for freedom; this bill supports that.”
“Communist China aims to broaden its sphere of influence across southeast Asia, and America’s diplomacy in the Pacific has been a long-term challenge. Beijing 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 Senator Kennedy.
Cassidy and Kennedy were joined by U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Rick Scott (R-FL), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Gary Peters (D-MI) in introducing the bill.
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. Last Congress, the U.S. appointed an equivalent counterpart, but the position isn’t currently cemented in law. This bill would make the special envoy position permanent and require the role to have Senate confirmation, reflecting U.S. commitment to strengthening growth and cooperation with these important Pacific Island countries.
Requiring Senate confirmation for the position would also elevate diplomacy in the region and ensure accountability to Congress. This special envoy will 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.