Led infrastructure aid to counter China in Indo-Pacific

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo centre US. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop and Minister for Defence Marise Payne

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo touted plans Monday for a major increase in US public and private investment across Asia to fund technology, infrastructure and energy initiatives, as China floods the region with its own investment and infrastructure projects.

"These funds represent just a down payment on a new era in United States economic commitment to peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region", Pompeo said.

"The Trump administration is committed to expanding our economic engagement in the Indo-Pacific region", the secretary said.

Hook said that the secretary's announcements would be an economic pillar for America's Indo-Pacific strategy.

Pompeo said, "When we say "free" Indo-Pacific, it means we all want all nations, every nation, to be able to protect their sovereignty from coercion by other countries".

"I've said on many occasions that we welcome investment in the Pacific that adheres to global standards of transparency, accountability, engaging local workforces and ensuring that unsustainable debt isn't imposed on the recipient nations".

"America will be there and American businesses will be there".

Australia's diplomatic relationship with China, its most important trading partner, has been strained since December when Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Chinese meddling in the nation's government and media were a catalyst for new anti-foreign interference laws, which passed parliament last month.

"We believe in strategic partnerships, not strategic dependency", he said.

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CHINA'S WAY, US WAY Speaking to reporters ahead of the speech, Brian Hook, senior policy adviser to Pompeo, said the United States was not competing with China's mostly state-led infrastructure initiatives.

"The United States, Japan and Australia have formed a trilateral partnership to mobilize investment in projects that drive economic growth, create opportunities, and foster a free, open, inclusive and prosperous Indo-Pacific", according to the statement.

Ray Washburne, president of the US government's Overseas Private Investment Corporation, said it hopes to double the $4 billion it now has invested in the Indo-Pacific "in the next few years". We want the peaceful resolution of territorial and maritime disputes.

Responding to a question on countries who have been part of the OBOR projects, Pompeo said some of the countries who have engaged in that find themselves in a place that they are not happy about.

Senator Mark Warner, co-chair of the Senate India Caucus, would provide Congressional perspective on how it's important for the United States public and private sector to be engaged in the Indo-Pacific region. The American people and the whole world have a stake in Indo-Pacific peace and prosperity.

That money will help countries in the region grow their economies in the digital and energy sectors.

"The US government's Indo-Pacific initiatives will be shaped by these values and buttressed by partnerships with American companies".

Under this the U.S. will support communications infrastructure development through technical assistance and public-private partnerships; promote market-driven digital regulatory policies; and build partners' cybersecurity capacity to address common threats, he said.

The US also announced strengthened support for important regional institutions, including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the Lower Mekong Initiative, and the Indian-Ocean Rim Association.

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