On Wednesday (Sept. 28), the United States kicked off a historic summit with leaders of Pacific island nations, declaring that they had reached an agreement on a relationship for the future and promising "big dollar" assistance to a region where it aims to contain China's growing influence.

Kurt Campbell, the White House's Indo-Pacific coordinator, announced last week that the meeting would center on problems like climate change and health. According to him, Washington and its allies seek to strengthen the marine security and communication ties between island governments and nations like Japan, Australia, and India.

A two-day meeting in Washington was anticipated to bring together the leaders of 12 Pacific island nations, with two more sending delegates and Australia and New Zealand watching from the sidelines.

The leaders will be honored all over Washington, including by President Joe Biden at the White House, the U.S. Congress, the Coast Guard's headquarters, and business leaders. According to a senior Biden administration official, Washington will also present a comprehensive new strategy tailored specifically for the Pacific on Wednesday.

Since World War Two, the United States has considered this region its maritime backyard; but, China has been steadily expanding there. This is the first time that the United States has welcomed so many leaders from this region. Some countries have voiced their displeasure at being entangled in the struggle of the superpowers for dominance.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced during a State Department opening session that the U.S. and the Pacific had agreed on "a declaration of partnership."

The shared vision, according to Blinken, "recognizes that only by working together can we actually tackle the biggest challenges of our time, that confront all of our citizens," and it shows the United States and the Pacific have a "shared vision for the future and a determination to build that future together."

In order "to add more resources, more capacity, more diplomatic engagement," the official who briefed journalists conceded that Washington had not given the Pacific region enough attention over the years. "We will have big dollar numbers," he said.

Blinken committed to contributing US$4.8 million to the Resilient Blue Economies program, which supports sustainable fisheries, agriculture, and tourism. He made reference to the 2050 Blue Pacific Continent strategy, which Pacific leaders have declared and which prioritizes action on climate change, saying that "we have sought to align our strategy to meet their goals and objectives."