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America's Pacific Island Allies: The Freely Associated States and Chinese Influence

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Technical Report

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RAND Corporation Santa Monica United States

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Located north and northeast of Australia and east of the Philippines, the Freely Associated States FAScomprising the independent countries of the Republic of Palau, the Federated States of MicronesiaFSM, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands RMIoccupy an ocean area roughly the size of the continental United States. Their location contains sea lines of communication linking U.S. military forces to Australia and Guam, and Guam to the Philippines. These strategic advantages have made the region particularly attractive to China, which has recently been attempting to expand its influence in this areaa development that could have significant implications for U.S. national interests in the region. The purpose of this report is to explain the importance of the FAS in U.S. defense and foreign policy, describe Chinas growing influence in the FAS, analyze how other countries in the region are responding, and assess the implications for the United States. This research was undertaken in response to the National Defense Authorization Act NDAA passed in 2018. The NDAA called for an independent entity to conduct an unclassified study examining U.S. defense and foreign policy interests and Chinese influence in the FAS. As an independent report, the study does not represent the views of the U.S. government.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
  • Government and Political Science

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