Mike Pompeo announces $154m in United States initiatives for Indo-Pacific

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced details of a plan for development in the Indo-Pacific region on Monday, pledging US$113 million in investments focused on energy, infrastructure and digital connectivity.

In a policy speech delivered amid increased US trade frictions with China and other Asian countries, Pompeo sought to define the economic aspect of President Donald Trump's "Indo-Pacific" strategy, which aims to cast the United States as a trustworthy partner in the region.

Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the trilateral partnership would "mobilise investment in projects that drive economic growth, create opportunities, and foster a free, open, inclusive and prosperous Indo-Pacific". "A free and open Indo-Pacific is America's chosen course, and we hope that it will be yours too".

"I've said on many occasions that no one country alone can meet all of the infrastructure needs in the Indo-Pacific".

Pompeo says despite withdrawing from the deal, American companies are continuing to advance USA economic interests in the region.

The $113m package of economic initiatives are a "down payment in peace" for the region and an apparent message for China.

"The way you convince them is that you demonstrate that over the course of history, over the even near term and medium term, that developing relationships with the United States, that having transparency, actually turns out to be better for the leadership and for the people in each of these countries", Pompeo said.

The Digital Connectivity and Cyber security Partnership will use public-private partnerships and technical assistance to support digital infrastructure in the Indo-Pacific. We want the peaceful resolution of territorial and maritime disputes.

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A firefighter knocks down a hot spot while working to stop the spread of the Carr Fire, west of Redding, Calif ., July 27, 2018 . More than 5,012 structures were threatened by the fire, officials said. "I just keep seeing all of their lovely faces".

"In all these areas - digital economy, energy, and infrastructure - we look forward to working with allies and partners", Pompeo added.

Economic analyst Qin Peng, a MBA from Tsinghua University, said that carrying out the Indo-Pacific strategy is a big step for the United States.

"This is key to global peace".

Countries in the region have been anxious by Trump's "America first" policy, withdrawal from the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal and pursuit of a trade conflict with China that threatens to disrupt regional supply chains.

Ray Washburne, president of the USA 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". The top U.S. diplomat will also be seeking to ensure that countries remain committed to maintaining economic sanctions on North Korea.

In contrast, Qin believes that the USA initiatives on digital connectivity, energy projects, and infrastructure target the needs of this region and will foster fair and reciprocal relationships, with U.

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.

Pompeo will also announce funding to support Asean through US-Asean Connect, the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) forum and the Lower Mekong Initiative, as well as announcing a first-ever US contribution to the Indian Ocean Rim Association, the senior policy adviser explained.

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