US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo told the conference “We have never and will never seek domination in the Indo-Pacific, and we will oppose any country that does.”
Pompeo affirmed that Washington would be a loyal partner of the Indo Pacific region without seeking domination.
“The great theme of our engagement is this: where America goes, we seek partnership, not domination,” Pompeo said.
Although Pompeo made no mention of China, it was fairly obvious to which country he was referring to.
Trump’s withdrawal from Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) right after his inauguration created doubts on United States’ commitment to support countries in this region.
In the absence of a strong presence of the United States in the Indo-Pacific region, China has taken it upon itself to expand its involvement including militarizing and weaponizing disputed islands notably in the Philippines.
In the forum sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, Pompeo dispelled notions that US is taking on a reckless economic course and setting aside its regional partners:
“I speak for President Trump when I say that every nation and business can have confidence that the United States will continue to create the conditions for mutual prosperity in a free and open Indo-Pacific.
“I know some are wondering about America’s role in the region in light of President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. While we work with our partners to craft better and higher-standard bilateral trade agreements, our companies are continuing to advance US economic interests by growing our presence in the region.”
Addressing the same conference the United States Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross explained why the Trump administration dropped the regional deal:
“At the end of the day, our relationships tend to end at the bilateral. It’s not inconceivable that we would end up in some multi-laterals,” he continued, but unlikely because “they take forever to do … they’re very, very complicated.”
Pompeo is determined to show United States commitment to nurture economic ties with the Indo-Pacific Region. He is set to travel to the region next week bringing with him an invitation to partner with the United States.
“Today I want to close by inviting any nation, and any business that wants those values enshrined in this region to partner with the United States government,” he said. “A free and open Indo-Pacific is America’s chosen course, and we hope that it will be yours too.”