US to launch Pacific island initiative

A senior US official has said the US will launch an initiative to step up its engagement with Pacific island nations amid China's increased presence in the region.

Kurt Campbell, White House NSC Coordinator for the Indo-Pacific Affairs, made the comment in a forum held by a Washington think tank on Thursday.

He said the US is launching the initiative next week to work with "a variety of like-minded countries," including Japan, Australia and Britain, "to make clear our desire to keep a Pacific environment that's open, that's healthy, that's productive, and free from coercion."

The initiative involves strengthening "maritime domain awareness," or MDA, by enhancing the multinational surveillance of maritime activities using satellites and other means.

In May, the leaders of Japan, the US, Australia and India met in Tokyo for the Quad summit meeting.

Its joint statement incorporated a plan to provide technologies and training concerning MDA to Pacific island nations, which are facing illegal fishing and other problems.

The US and China are increasingly at loggerheads to ensure their influence over Pacific island nations.