Biden to host U.S.-Pacific Island summit amid heightened tensions with Beijing

Biden to host U.S.-Pacific Island summit amid heightened tensions with Beijing

President Biden will host leaders from Pacific Island countries later this month in a demonstration of the “deep and enduring partnership” of the U.S. and the region, the White House announced Friday.

The first-ever summit, which will be held in Washington on Sept. 28 and 29, advances Biden’s effort to shore up allies in the region as U.S.-China tensions grow.

“The summit will reflect our broadening and deepening cooperation on key issues such as climate change, pandemic response, economic recovery, maritime security, environmental protection, and advancing a free and open Indo-Pacific,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.

Tensions flared recently when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan’s capital Taipei.

Beijing commenced a series of highly provocative military exercises in the waters surrounding Taiwan in response to the California Democrat’s brief visit to the self-governing island 100 miles off of China’s mainland.

Beijing claims Taiwan as part of China. The government in Taipei, which formally calls itself the Republic of China, is denounced by Beijing as an illegitimate renegade.

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The military maneuvers sparked fears that the Chinese military could move to seize Taiwan by force in the foreseeable future.

The Biden administration has pressed for Beijing to cool tensions in the region and says its policy regarding Taiwan and China has not changed, despite the recent dustup.