Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit the Asia-Pacific region next week. He will meet foreign ministers of the four-member Quad, a strategic security dialogue between the United States, India, Japan, and Australia.
Blinken is traveling despite the growing conflict in Ukraine. According to Canberra Times, policy analysts say the goal is to express support for the Pacific region while also demonstrating that countering China’s growing influence remains a significant priority for the U.S.
Previously, Beijing slammed the U.S., accusing it of forming “small cliques” and “inciting bloc conflict” when Blinken visited the region.
Blinken will then travel to Fiji to meet with Pacific island leaders before heading to Hawaii to meet with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts to address the North Korean issue.
The trip was revealed as China and Russia declared a profound strategic alliance on Friday, Feb. 4, to counterbalance what they see as the U.S.’s so-called malign global influence.
Blinken will be the first U.S. Secretary of State to visit Fiji since 1985.
The official added Blinken would also conclude the negotiations on Compacts of Free Association, which permit U.S. military access to three Pacific countries—the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and Palau.
The U.S. Indo-Pacific coordinator, Kurt Campbell, indicated that the Pacific could be the region most likely to see “strategic surprise,” presumably referring to Chinese plans to create Pacific-island bases.