Two of Donald Trump's top security advisers have paid a rare visit to the Pacific in another sign that the United States is intent on thwarting China's strategic ambitions in the region.
The senior director for Asian affairs on the White House National Security Council (NSC), Matt Pottinger, visited Vanuatu and Solomon Islands last week for meetings with top politicians and officials. Mr Pottinger also visited Australia, New Zealand and Japan.
He was accompanied by Alexander Gray, who has just taken on a newly created position of director for Oceania & Indo-Pacific Security at the NSC — another sign of intensifying US focus in the region.
The NSC advises US presidents on defence and foreign affairs and has been at the heart of American security policy since World War II.
In this interview on ABC's Pacific Beat, Ashley Townshend from the United States Studies Centre said Mr Pottinger's visit showed Washington recognised the "new strategic reality" in the Pacific.