US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will visit the Cook Islands today for the Pacific Islands Forum, in what appears to be another move to bolster US influence in the region and create a check against China, the Financial Times reported. Clinton will be the first in her position to attend the forum, which will be held in Rarotonga, the most populated of the Cook Islands. “With China’s influence rising across Asia-Pacific, the US has made a big effort to be present at diplomatic talkfests across the region,” said Fergus Hanson, a research fellow at Australian think tank the Lowy Institute. “The Pacific Islands Forum might be an obscure meeting, but there is a real power in showing up.” Clinton will travel to Beijing next week before going to Vladivastok for the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference summit.
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