Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced $113 million in new US investments in the Indo-Pacific region Monday, including $25 million to promote digital connectivity, $50 million for energy projects, and $30 million for infrastructure.
In making the announcement, Pompeo emphasized the US commitment to the region, and to the principles of freedom and openness, implicitly drawing a contrast to China’s investment policies under its “One Belt, One Road” plan.
“With American companies, citizens around the world know that what you see is what you get: honest contracts, honest terms, and no need for off-the-books mischief,” Pompeo said at an Indo-Pacific Business Forum at the US Chamber of Commerce. “For us the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act is not just a law – it is a point of pride. Integrity in businesses practices is an essential pillar of our Indo-Pacific economic vision.”
While President Donald Trump has frequently referred to China as a top US economic competitor, Pompeo avoided calling China out by name in his remarks. Still, he frequently sought to frame US companies as the better partners for countries seeking foreign investment.
The US “will never seek domination in the Indo-Pacific,” said Pompeo, “and we will oppose any country that does.”
Pompeo further announced he will visit Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia in the days ahead, leaving Wednesday, and plans to announce additional security assistance for the region.
Briefing reporters on Sunday, Pompeo’s senior policy adviser Brian Hook insisted the US approach is “not a strategy to counter” China’s investment projects, but criticized what US sees as “a made in China, made for China initiative.”
“We have a vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific and it doesn’t exclude any nation,” Hook said, “and we welcome contributions by China to regional development.”
“We just want them to adhere to high standards, and to uphold areas such as transparency, and rule of law, and sustainable financing,” he added.
In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping launched China’s One Belt, One Road strategy, which centers on pumping hundreds of billions of dollars into ports, rail lines and other projects across Asia, Europe and Africa.
The costs of the program are astronomical, but China hopes it will spur demand for Chinese goods overseas and expand China’s influence in global affairs.