Blinken touts deeper US engagement amid concerns over ‘aggressive’ China

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JAKARTA – Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday touted a US strategy to deepen its alliances with Asian treaties, proposing to step up defense and intelligence work with partners in an increasingly concerned Indo-Pacific region. China’s “aggressive actions”.

During a visit to Indonesia https://reut.rs/31VFAlF, Blinken described the Indo-Pacific as the most dynamic region in the world and said everyone has an interest in ensuring a status quo without coercion or intimidation, in a thinly veiled reference. in China.

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He said the United States, its allies and some South China Sea claimants would oppose any illegal action.

“We will work with our allies and partners to defend the rules-based order that we have built together over decades to ensure the region remains open and accessible,” he said in a speech to a university .

“Be clear: the objective of upholding rules-based order is not to keep a country on the ground. Rather, it is about protecting the right of all countries to choose their own path, free from coercion and intimidation.

China claims almost all of the South China Sea, despite some overlapping claims with other coastal states and an international tribunal that has ruled that China’s vast claim has no legal basis.

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Beijing has dismissed the US position as interference from an outside power that could threaten the stability of Asia. China’s Foreign Ministry made no immediate comment on Blinken’s comments.

Blinken makes his first visit to Southeast Asia https://reut.rs/3DJbGy0 since President Joe Biden took office in January, a trip to solidify relations after a period of uncertainty over the United States engagement in Asia under the administration of Donald Trump.

“BETTER INFRASTRUCTURE”

Despite tensions in the South China Sea, Beijing’s influence has grown in recent years as it further encourages investment in infrastructure and integrated trade links in the Asia-Pacific region, in the perceived absence of ‘an American economic strategy for the region.

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Blinken said the United States will strengthen ties with allies such as Japan, South Korea, Thailand and the Philippines and strengthen defense and intelligence capabilities with Indo-Pacific partners, as well as defend a Open and secure internet.

He stressed, however, that this was not a contest between a region centered on the United States or China.

He also said Washington was determined to put pressure on the military junta in Myanmar to end the violence, release detainees and return to inclusive democracy.

The United States was also committed to a new comprehensive regional economic framework, which would include more US foreign direct investment and US companies identifying new opportunities in the region, he said, without providing details.

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The administration has not yet clarified what exactly the economic framework envisioned by Biden will consist of https://reut.rs/3dKWN3H. The Trump administration withdrew from a US-inspired multinational Pacific trade deal in 2017.

Blinken, who will also be visiting Malaysia and Thailand this week, said the United States will work to strengthen supply chains and close infrastructure gaps in the region, ports and roads. electrical networks and the Internet.

In another blow to China, he said the United States was hearing growing concerns in the Indo-Pacific about the opaque and corrupt processes of foreign companies importing their own labor, draining natural resources, and polluted the environment.

“The Indo-Pacific countries want a better kind of infrastructure,” he said.

“But many think it’s too expensive – or that they feel pressured to do bad deals on terms set by others, rather than doing nothing at all.” (Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; writing by Martin Petty; editing by Robert Birsel and Stephen Coates)

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