Palacios talks with the U.S. Secretary of State

Anthony Blinken speaks with Arnold Palacios in Washington, D.C. Photo courtesy of the CNMI governor’s office.

Arnold Palacios’ strategy to disengage Chinese ties to the Commonwealth in order to bring military and federal investments to the CNMI appears to be working. Only nine months into his administration, the new governor was able to have an audience with U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, America’s chief diplomat, in Washington, D.C.

The governor was in the nation’s capital this week to meet with President Biden, Mr. Blinken, other U.S. leaders, and the heads of state from the countries that make up the Pacific Islands Forum.

Most of those countries and the CNMI and Guam, are critical to U.S. posture in the Pacific against an aggressive China. Over the next five years, America is expected to spend $34 billion on its Pacific Deterrence Initiative (PDI), a massive buildup of Naval, Army, Marine Corps, and Air Force might in the U.S. Indo-Pacific region west of the International Date Line.

The deterrence is against China, and in support of U.S. interests and the security of its allies in the region. A major stumbling block has been the CNMI’s historic acquiescence – and to a degree by some corrupt politicians, willful genuflect – to Chinese Communist Party (CCP) influence through the tourism, gambling, financing, and development sectors.

According to federal and military officials, that influence also has infiltrated the halls of Capitol Hill and even a news organization.

Mr. Palacios, early in his term, announced his policy pivot away from Chinese tourism and investment and has come under fire from various sectors wanting the governor to reconsider.

Instead, the governor insists the credibility of the Commonwealth is at stake with the only entity that can be relied upon to help the CNMI up from the economic doldrums his predecessor – Ralph Torres – left it: the U.S. government, particularly the military.

The U.S.-Chinese relationship turned particularly sour in February, after a Chinese spy balloon flew over Guam then over the continental United States. What has ensued has been a race by both countries to build unprecedented spy networks and counterintelligence operations, according to a recent article in the New York Times.

The Times was able to confirm that every field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigations has opened investigations into Chinese intelligence operations within the United States. Among those field offices is the one in Honolulu, which operates a desk in Saipan. In 2019, a federal search warrant was unsealed following raids at the home and office of Ralph Torres, then governor. Among the violations upon which probable cause was found to raid the office of the governor, was foreign interference in a United States election.

A Bloomberg investigative report months earlier accused Mr. Torres of having direct ties with the CCP.

The presence and workings of CCP operatives in the CNMI undermines American efforts, a quagmire Mr. Palacios has recognized.

The governor’s commitment against the Chinese infiltration, sources have told Kandit, will go a long way toward a U.S. government commitment to assist the CNMI from under the havoc Mr. Torres wreaked.


  • $34 billion to prepare for a war that is unlikely to occur?

    That is because Pres. Xi and the CCP are well aware that our military could overwhelm their inferior defensive capabilities in a few hours. As well, China is financially dependent on US trade, and they’re nearly broke as it is. Also, I would be shocked if the CCP dared to invade Taiwan, whom the US pledged to protect. Bear in mind that the Chinese military hasn’t fought a war for decades, and their conscripts are far from battle-tested. Even in a ground war, the inexperienced Chinese troops would be overwhelmed by our battle-hardened Marines. It’s no contest.

    I understand Gov. Palacios’ belief that any Chinese person who comes here is an infiltrator, including tourists. I disagree with this assessment. Has any Chinese tourist ever posed a threat? No sir. They come to buy Real Gucci items at the DFS, not to plant a bomb at the Kensington.

  • Counter Intelligence

      09/29/2023 at 1:45 PM

    Perhaps they can discuss the PRC intelligence agent who got almost a million dollars of BOOST money.

  • Prior to becoming the U.S. Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken was a partner at Wynken, Blinken and Nod, a law firm which represented enormous wooden shoes,

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