US Announces $113 Million In Initiatives In Indo-Pacific To Counter China

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will be in the hot seat when he testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Australia is joining forces with the United States and Japan to pull more private infrastructure investment into poor countries in Asia and the Pacific in what will be a rival vision to China's massive state-led Belt and Road Initiative.

President Donald Trump has lined up his top Cabinet members - Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Energy Secretary Rick Perry - at US Chambers of Commerce which is hosting the first Indo-Pacific Business Forum meeting on Monday.

"These funds represent just a downpayment on a new era in USA commitment to peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region", he said.

Mike Pompeo said the USA would oppose any country that seeks to dominate the region.

Asked if the Indo-Pacific Business Forum was responding to China's Belt and Road Initiative, Hook said: "We have a vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific".

Addressing an audience of business leaders, diplomats and senior administration officials, Mr. Pompeo said that the U.S.

"Thanks to this history of economic and commercial engagement, America's relationships throughout the Indo-Pacific today are characterised by mutual trust and respect".

The partnership recognises that "more support is needed to enhance peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region". "When American businesses come to these countries, they'll thrive", Pompeo said.

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"It is a made in China, made for China initiative", Hook said, according to Reuters. Instead, he said that the government would play a minimal role in the initiatives, unlike China's plans, which are largely state-led.

Countries in the region have been anxious by Trump's "America first" policy, withdrawal from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal and pursuit of a trade conflict with China that threatens to disrupt regional supply chains. "We know that India is a very important market for the countries of Asia and we want to support that greater collaboration in the region", she said.

When asked about Pompeo's remarks, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said the International Monetary Fund has its own standards and regulations when cooperating with related countries.

In the '60s, we grew partnerships to address basic developmental needs.

Labor leader Bill Shorten said the government was just playing catch-up, after "dropping the ball" in the Pacific and eroding its leadership role by slashing overseas aid by nearly $12 billion to its lowest levels in history. The top U.S. diplomat will also be seeking to ensure that countries remain committed to maintaining economic sanctions on North Korea.

The US Department of State is skilled at executing this kind of diplomatic strategy: Convening across regions, persuading other countries of the validity of an approach, and developing partnerships across the public and private sectors.

The initiative will grow foreign energy markets and boost U.S. energy exports by expanding public-private partnerships, fostering business-to-business connections, and helping partner governments set market-based energy policies.

The Australian government has raised fears in recent months that some small Pacific nations might get trapped with unsustainable debts, handing Beijing influence.

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