The Pacific islands region requires a strong U.S. presence given the looming suspicious activities that need to be thoroughly monitored, according to American Samoa Congresswoman Uifa’atali Amata.
"Circumstances can quickly form that could impact national security, food and fuel supply chains and much more,” Amata said in a statement following her meeting last week with Admiral John C. Aquilino, the new commander of the Indo-Pacific Command.
“It is also a fact that China is a rapidly expanding and ambitious influence in this part of the world, and the U.S. must be thinking ahead to meet all sorts of competitive economic and geopolitical challenges, and maintaining our Pacific alliances and friendships is key," Amata said.
Aquilino briefed Amata on the state of the Pacific region, covering a host of issues affecting American Samoa, other U.S. territories as well as the freely associated states.
“I appreciate the highly informative briefing, and a sense of the immense responsibility of this extensive command region, which covers more area of the globe than any other,” Amata said.
Amata noted that American Samoa remains a strategic location. "I believe our port, airport and other infrastructure should always be maintained and developed with readiness in mind as a crossroads in the Pacific," she added.
Aquilino, assumed the post in April, succeeding Admr. Phillip Davidson.
On Tuesday, Aquilino met with top Japanese officials and reaffirmed their alliance amid China’s increasingly assertive claims to contested areas in the region.
The IndoPacom chief and Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi shared their concern about China’s “continuous and intensified attempt to unilaterally change the status quo in the East and South China Seas,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Motegi told Aquilio that under the current circumstances, "the importance of the alliance is greater than ever."
The two sides also reaffirmed the importance of peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region and agreed to further strengthen their joint response capability and deterrence to achieve a “free and open Indo-Pacific.”