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US tries to pass Peace Corps buck to China: China Daily editorial

China Daily | Updated: 2023-12-07 09:41

The US Capitol building is seen in Washington, DC. [Photo/Xinhua]

Money talks. That little funds have been forthcoming to support the plan of the US Peace Corps to return to the Solomon Islands is the strongest indication that even those holding the purse strings in the United States see little merit in it.

The sum the Peace Corps has received for its work in the Pacific island nation with a population of 700,000 for the fiscal year 2024 is just $500. That the Corps put a footnote in its budget sheet stressing they are still "close to finalizing agreements" with the latter's government does little to hide the fact that it continues to miss deadlines to secure funding from the US Congress to support its work there.

Further, the agency's budget for that nation for the past three years has been zero despite the US having announced the Peace Corps would return to the Solomon Islands in October 2019 after a two-decade absence.

Neither the US nor the Solomon Islands has officially commented on the Peace Corp's failing to implement its plan. But the words of an anonymous former US official to Al Jazeera that groundlessly blame China for "influenced (ing) the Solomon Islands Cabinet's decision to pause approval for the Peace Corps to return to the islands" lack such diplomatic courtesy. It shows that facing a failure to increase its influence in the Solomon Islands, the US wants to pass the buck to China.

But it is a well-known fact that the Peace Corps has carried the heavy baggage of ideological confrontation since it was founded by former US president John F. Kennedy during the height of the Cold War. After the end of the Cold War there were calls for canceling the program and disbanding the organization, but with the persistence of the Cold War mentality in the US it has not only survived but also expanded.

It is also a well-known fact that the US is not so welcome in the Solomon Islands. A local report in January this year found that "every year, more than 20 people are killed and many more are injured in the Solomon Islands by unexploded ordnance left behind 80 years ago" during World War II. To get rid of these ordnance the US claimed it would donate $1 million to the HALO Trust to do the clearing job there, but that's not enough.

Passing the buck is something the US habitually does to try and lessen its responsibility for any failure.

China's position is clear that the return of the Peace Corps is a matter between the US and the Solomon Islands. As early as July, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said at a news conference that Pacific island nations are not any country's backyard and China is not interested in seeking any sphere of influence there. She also expressed the hope that the US will sincerely help the Pacific island nations prosper, develop and stabilize.

The US basically turned its back on the Pacific island countries after the end of the Cold War. It is only now Washington is trying to create a new one that it has developed a renewed interest in them.


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