The Pacific Islands include over a dozen countries and territories spanning an area four times the size of the continental United States. The Pacific Islands see themselves not as small island countries, but as large ocean states forming a “Blue Pacific Continent.” The United States is increasingly focusing its attention on the region, particularly amid China’s growing engagement and the impacts of climate change. In support of U.S. government priorities, USIP is pursuing a range of projects focused on peace and stability in the Pacific Islands and elevating dialogue with the region.

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In the Pacific, Corruption and Poor Policing Open a Door to China

In the Pacific, Corruption and Poor Policing Open a Door to China

Thursday, February 8, 2024

By: Gordon Peake, Ph.D.

After the Pacific’s largest island nation, Papua New Guinea, recently suffered deadly rioting that included police, an official last week announced a Chinese offer to help strengthen its police force. That sequence exemplifies a rising challenge for democracy and stability in the Pacific: Many island nations suffer corruption and deficient policing that undermines the rule of law. This gap in responsive governance lets China seek influence through technical assistance drawn from its authoritarian model of policing. In response, democracies must reshape narrow, outdated approaches to security assistance.

Type: Analysis

Democracy & GovernanceJustice, Security & Rule of Law

Riots in Papua New Guinea Are a Warning: Urgent Change is Needed

Riots in Papua New Guinea Are a Warning: Urgent Change is Needed

Thursday, January 11, 2024

By: Gordon Peake, Ph.D.

Riots erupted in Papua New Guinea's capital yesterday, laying bare the hollowness of governance that is failing to meet public needs, thus risking deeper violence and instability. U.S attention to the Pacific Islands' largest and most populous nation is increasing, partly because it is an arena for geopolitical competition with China. While Papua New Guinea's leaders are good at rolling out the red carpet for visiting partners, the state fails lamentably in providing basic services for its people. This week’s violence is a wake-up call for U.S and international policymakers to re-focus on this root of the country’s instability.

Type: Analysis

Democracy & GovernanceFragility & Resilience

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