United States recognized the Cook Islands and Niue as sovereign and independent states on September 25, 2023, during President Biden’s Summit with Pacific Islands Countries (PIC) Leaders in Washington, D.C. This announcement is a significant step forward in the US-Pacific Islands relationship and comes as the US seeks to counter growing Chinese influence in the region.
The Cook Islands and Niue are self-governing island countries in free association with New Zealand. This means that they have their own governments and laws, but New Zealand is responsible for their defense and foreign affairs. The US has long had close ties with the two countries, but its decision to recognize them as sovereign states is a sign of its growing commitment to the Pacific Islands region.The US recognition of the Cook Islands and Niue is also seen as a way to send a message to China, which has been increasing its presence in the Pacific Islands in recent years. China has invested heavily in infrastructure and development projects in the region, and it has also been building military ties with some countries. The US is concerned that China’s growing influence in the Pacific could pose a threat to its own interests in the region.The US recognition of the Cook Islands and Niue is a positive development for both the US and the two island countries. It strengthens the US-Pacific Islands relationship and sends a message to China that the US is committed to the region.