Three months after China struck a controversial security deal with the Solomon Islands, Washington and four of its allies announced the establishment of a new mechanism to ramp up engagement with Pacific island nations.

The “Partners in the Blue Pacific” (PBP) initiative is meant as an “inclusive and informal” way to support Pacific priorities more effectively and efficiently amid “growing pressure on the rules-based free and open international order,” said the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia and New Zealand in a joint statement issued on June 24.

At the same time, analysts agree that the main intention behind the grouping is to increase influence with the Pacific islands amid concerns over China’s growing activities in the region.