The US is “banding together” with nations like India, Australia, Japan and South Korea to ensure that the sovereignty of Indo-Pacific nations is protected and that they are not subjected to any coercion, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said.
His comments came days after the Indian Navy participated with the navies of the US, the Philippines and Japan in their first joint naval exercise in the disputed South China Sea, where China is flexing its muscle.
Pompeo, in his address to the Claremont Institute’s 40th Anniversary Gala in Beverly Hills, California, said: “We are banding together with the like-minded nations like Australia, India, Japan and South Korea to make sure that each Indo-Pacific nation can protect its sovereignty from coercion”.
“It’s part of a greater commitment to free and open order. You all know this: The distinctive mark of western civilization is the belief in the inherent worth of human beings, with the attendant respect for God-authored rights and liberties. Indeed, the declaration says that ‘all men are created equal’. And we ought to help nations protect these first things and human rights as well,” he said.
Trump administration’s policies, he said, has been a real pivot to Asia.
“The President has taken action to stop China from stealing our stuff. No longer will American companies be forced to hand over their technological crown jewels as the price of doing business in China. When a deal doesn’t work for the United States, no deal shall be done, Pompeo said.
The United States, he said, has bolstered its military presence in the South China Sea, and have put nations on notice around the world that the sale of key infrastructure and technology companies to China threatens their national security.
“We have strengthened the group, the entity, that screens Chinese and other foreign investments here in the United States. We are also fighting the battle to make sure that the Chinese Communist Party cannot burrow into the data of billions of internet users through companies like Huawei and ZTE,” he said.
The internet of tomorrow must have buried within its Western values and must not belong to China, Pompeo asserted amidst applause from the audience.
Pompeo said putting ‘America First’ means proudly associating with nations that share its principles and are willing to defend them.
“It’s true; we had some earlier comments from Washington’s Farewell Address. He warned against permanent alliances, but that same speech praised connections with nations based on policy, humanity and interest.
We have reaffirmed America’s historic alliance with the only free nation in the Middle East: Israel,” Pompeo added.
The combined show of naval might by the US, the Philippines and Japan on Thursday came at a time of heightened tensions in the trade war between China and the US – the two world powers locked in a tussle for the commercial control of the South China Sea, which serves as a passage for annual trade worth USD 3.5 trillion.
China claims almost all of the strategic South China Sea with Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam pushing competing for claims to parts of the resource-rich maritime region. The United States, Japan and India do not have any territorial claims there.