Western Caucus Members Participate In Pacific Islands Field Hearing

Washington, August 25, 2023 | Noah Yantis (202-225-4466)
Tags: Energy
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Earlier this week, the House Committee on Natural Resources hosted a field hearing in Tamuning, Guam, to hear from local leaders about the strategic importance of the Pacific Islands to U.S.-led global security. Congressional Western Caucus Vice Chairs Bruce Westerman (AR-04), Doug Lamborn (CO-05), Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen (AS-AL), and Tom Tiffany (WI-07) along with Western Caucus Members Reps. James Moylan (GU-AL) and Harriet Hageman (WY-AL) participated.
"Guam's importance to America's national security cannot be overstated. Less than 2,000 miles away from here lies a threat to freedom and self-determination in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) under the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP),” said Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, Bruce Westerman (AR-04). “The CCP not only seeks to challenge American leadership but is also aggressively working to undermine the democratic values and institutions that we hold dear. The recent PRC hacks in Guam shows that Guam is on the frontlines of the fight against this threat. It was an honor to be here in Guam to hear from local leaders and communities and to celebrate America's unrivaled military strength in the Pacific."

“This is certainly a historic moment for Guam, as we have not had a Congressional hearing on island for more than a decade. The fact that the House Natural Resources Committee has approved the request to conduct one is certainly significant, as it places Guam on the Congressional map when it comes to priorities. Our team has worked hard to ensure our issues are addressed, and having members physically see and hear our concerns first-hand will certainly go a long way,” said Rep. James Moylan (GU-AL). “Guam’s proximity becomes even more valuable to the United States of America with the rise of concerns coming from the Chinese Communist Party. There have been numerous instances where they have tested their limits with Guam by hacking into the infrastructure of American military bases, operating their warships near our waters, and the illegal entry of Chinese nationals embarking on our shores from the CNMI. I want to thank my colleagues in Congress for recognizing Guam’s importance and seeing us as a community, not merely an island with military installations.”

"We are here as a committee because Guam is truly a northern keystone in the architecture in what has been a free and open Pacific since 1945," said Vice Chair Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen (AS-AL). "Now we are facing the threat of the once concealed but now overt velvet-gloved hand of PRC ambitions that hides the iron fists of PRC totalitarian, communist imperialism."
“We have travelled thousands of miles to show our support for the strategic value of the Pacific Islands in protecting U.S. interests and human rights in general and free trade in the Indo-Pacific region,” said Vice Chair Doug Lamborn (CO-05). “As a beacon for democracy and a strategically important counter to Beijing, the U.S. needs to increase its support of our Pacific Island territories and our treaty partners.”
“We’ve been doing these hearings since this Congress convened back in January across America, and it is such a privilege to be here in the island of Guam to do this also,” said Vice Chair Tom Tiffany (WI-07). “It is time to end our One China policy, the misguided One China policy that was put in place in 1979.”

“I want everyone to understand that this isn’t the only hearing that we have held on the particular issues that we’ve been addressing today, the issues that we have discussed, the relationship with our territories as well as the other islands in the entire region has been at the forefront of our interest throughout the last 8 months that we have been in Congress,” said Rep. Harriet Hageman (WY-AL). “When we discuss China, and Chinese political warfare, there are clear-cut examples of China using tactics to achieve one of its main political goals, which is eliminating Taiwan’s diplomatic space.”
These Congressional Western Caucus Members heard from the following witnesses during the field hearing: 
  • Honorable Lourdes “Lou” Leon Guerrero, Governor of Guam
  • Honorable Arnold I. Palacios, Governor of the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands
  • Honorable Kaleb Udui, Jr., Minister of Finance for the Republic of Palau
  • Honorable Ricky Cantero, Acting Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs for the Federated States of Micronesia
  • Honorable Jack Ading, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade for the Republic of the Marshall Islands
  • Honorable Tina Barnes, Vice Speaker of the Guam Legislature
  • Irene Sgambelluri, World War II Survivor
“Throughout history, Guam has played a crucial role due to its strategic location sitting at the crossroads of Pacific powers,” said Lourdes “Lou” Leon GuerreroGovernor of Guam. “In recent times, China’s increasing influence in the region has raised serious, threatening and real concerns, China’s efforts to expand its reach to other Pacific Island countries through infrastructure projects, political maneuvering, and socio-economic coercion have repercussions for the Pacific Islands including Guam.”
“That you have travelled thousands of miles to conduct this oversight hearing indicate that you indeed recognize the strategic value of these Pacific Islands in securing peace and freedom in our nation and the world,” said Arnold I. Palacios, Governor of the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands.“The CCP moves aggressively to fill perceived voids in Americans’ assistance and to capitalize on social and economic vulnerabilities of the Pacific Island communities.”
“China has worked to undermine our relationship and has made inroads,” said Kaleb Udui, Jr., Minister of Finance for the Republic of Palau. “Most private sector investment in Palau is from China.”
“The FSM of course follows closely the changing dynamics of competition in the Indo-Pacific region,” said Ricky Cantero, Acting Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs for the Federated States of Micronesia. “The FSM is committed to doing its part to cooperate with the United States to ensure that our region, our people, live in a safe and secure environment.”
“RMI highly values our free association and wants it to continue,” said Jack Ading, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade for the Republic of the Marshall Islands. “Unresolved problems from the nuclear tests and radioactive waste is a serious irritant in our relations and has the potential for being exploited by China.”
“I have witnessed the rise of China’s soft-powered diplomacy in our region,” said Tina Barnes, Vice Speaker of the Guam Legislature. “From airports to critical infrastructure to government landmarks and people-to-people exchanges, China has made it a point to make known their presence, open checkbooks, and influence right here in our backyard.”
“Guam is the center of American values in the middle of the Pacific Ocean,” said Irene Sgambelluri, World War II Survivor. “Thank you very much for having me this morning and allowing me to share with you my story and the trust I have in the United States of America.”

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