American Ally Asks for Help to Counter China

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The island-nation of Palau has asked for the US Navy to provide additional patrols following a Chinese incursion, according to Reuters. President Whipps Jr. has asked for American vessels to step in patrols in the South Chinea Sea.

Whipps Jr. said he would also welcome a bigger U.S. military presence in the country, with troops stationed alongside existing coastguard and civil action teams, as Washington and Beijing vie for influence in the strategic region.

“No matter what, we’re going to be in the centre of whatever’s happening, so it’s important that we’re protected,” Whipps Jr. said during a visit to Tokyo on Wednesday, adding that “to get peace, you have to project strength”.

Palau had been colonized by Spain before being sold to Germany. In turn, Japan seized the islands from Germany in the initial stages of World War I when it was fighting on the side of the Allies. After World War II, the United States took control of the islands before granting them independence and eventually, a place at the UN.

China has denied hostile intent, though it has been pushing its luck with America and Western countries

Asked about the incursions on Thursday, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said the vessels had taken shelter in the relevant waters and had not conducted any surveys or investigations. “Security cooperation between countries should not target third parties,” he added.

Being such a small state, Palau has voluntarily transferred its national defense and diplomacy to the United States. As such, additional patrols in the area are vital to fulfilling treaty obligations and show the Chinese Navy that it will have to compete against the much largest US Navy.

American naval deployment still follows the two ocean division, and reinforced defenses around Associated Nations will continue to tilt the needs of the Navy to the Pacific.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin praised “small island states” like Palau in a speech in Singapore earlier this month and, in a 2021 meeting with Whipps Jr., expressed deep appreciation for the U.S.-Palau partnership.

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