Prof. ST Hsieh
Director, US-China Energy Industry Forum
September 27, 2023
Call it “geoeconomic calculation,” or any other sophisticated jargon, the brutal fact is “No money, No Honey!” On the global stage, US fiscal challenges are transparent: mounting national deficit, bipartisan politics, inflation, and now the looming federal government shut down within 72 hours. The most likely outcome is a “continuous resolution” or CR in short: “a kick the can down the road” trick so that the Congress will revisit the same issue again within the next two or three months. The same “game of chicken” show will be on again within the next few months. For those who depend on the US foreign aid, along with US federal employees, to get by, the uncertainty is scary enough.
Then the Biden Administration is used to call heads of small nations to the White House for a summit. Which is more like a live TV coverage of “Biden lecture” than summit. Because those leaders won’t have much to say, and they go home empty handed.
Foreign policy is as strong as domestic strength: Biden’s domestic supporting level is lower than Trump as of now. Biden should focus on how to make the US really great again, despite his promise of financial aid, the fund must be approved by the US Congress. Everyone understands the US system of Check and Balance!
Solomon Islands joins China-backed AIIB days after PM snubs Biden invite for Pacific summit at White House
South China Morning Post
Wed, September 27, 2023 at 2:30 AM PDT·6 min read
The new admissions to the AIIB push the total number of countries that have joined to 109. While most are in Asia, the bank also has members outside the region, such as Britain, France and dozens of African countries, including Algeria, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Egypt.
The AIIB’s board of governors approved the applications during the bank’s eighth annual meeting in the Egyptian city of Sharm el-Sheikh on Tuesday – its first in-person annual gathering since 2019.
AIIB president and board chairman Jin Liqun said the members now “collectively account for 81 per cent of the world’s population and 65 per cent of global gross domestic product”.
“The addition of El Salvador, Solomon Islands and Tanzania strengthens the AIIB community and supports our collective mission to finance infrastructure for tomorrow,” Jin said.
“Together, we will work on priority projects within our clearly defined thematic priorities to drive long-term sustainable growth.”
“Our journey began with 57 founding members,” AIIB vice-president and corporate secretary Ludger Schuknecht said.
He said the growth in membership to 109 showed “that many believe in our mission to achieve sustainable infrastructure development and economic growth, as well as our commitment to actively support infrastructure projects that contribute to climate change mitigation, adaptation and resilience”.
David Shinn, a China expert and professor at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs, said the three newest members hoped to obtain some of the infrastructure financing offered by the AIIB, which had a wide membership of countries representing various political persuasions.
“There is no significant downside to joining and the motivation is probably more practical than geopolitical,” Shinn said.
However, Aly-Khan Satchu, a geoeconomic analyst, said Solomon Islands had decisively pivoted towards the East, with Honiara recently describing development cooperation with China as “less restrictive, more responsive and aligned to our national needs”.
“Solomon Islands has made the geoeconomic calculation that a singular alignment with China at this time will have potentially an outsize pay-off, versus trying to balance the US and China, or pivoting towards the US. That signal is an overarching one and interesting for that,” Satchu said.
Solomon Islands’ Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare signalled that shift when he declined to attend the Pacific nations summit at the White House on Monday and Tuesday. Before the snub, he praised China for its development model in his speech at the UN General Assembly last week.
In July, Sogavare accused the US of interfering in the Pacific nation’s “internal affairs” after Washington raised concerns about Honiara signing a security deal with Beijing.
Solomon Islands leader says he skipped Biden summit to avoid ‘lecture’
Wed, September 27, 2023 at 6:26 AM PDT
SYDNEY (Reuters) – Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manesseh Sogavare said he skipped a Pacific Islands leaders summit at the White House this week to avoid a “lecture” and because he had more pressing issues at home.
Sogavare, who has built close ties with China, held a press conference on Wednesday after arriving back in Solomon Islands from the United States, where he spoke at the United Nations but did not join other Pacific Island Forum leaders in Washington for a two-day summit.
Sogavare said he attended the first summit last year and “nothing came out of it“.
“They lecture you about how good they are“, he said, according to a video of the press conference published by Solomon Islands media company Tavuli News on Wednesday evening.
Biden pledged to work with Congress to provide $200 million more in funding for projects in the region aimed at mitigating the effects of climate change, spurring economic growth, countering illegal fishing and improving public health.
(Reporting by Kirsty Needham; Editing by Anil D’Silva)
Spending holdup risks US ties to key Pacific Island states
SEPTEMBER 27, 2023
With the U.S. fiscal year approaching an end and no new funding plan in place, multiple tiny island nations in the Indo-Pacific risk being cut off from Washington’s economic support just as China is trying to woo them away from their military alliance with the U.S.