US to expand military, economic ties with Indo-Pacific, Blinken says
Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday spoke on how the U.S. will be expanding its military and economic presence in the Indo-Pacific region to advance what he called a shared vision of a “free and open Indo-Pacific.”
Blinken gave an address in Jakarta, Indonesia, at Universitas Indonesia. In his speech, Blinken laid out five goals the U.S. has for its involvement in the region: advancing a free and open Indo-Pacific; establishing stronger relations with neighboring countries like Australia, Japan and South Korea; promoting prosperity; building resilience; and bolstering security.
As part of advancing these goals, Blinken directly addressed China’s “aggressive actions” in claiming open seas as part of its maritime territory.
“Countries across the region want this behavior to change,” said Blinken.
Blinken said President Biden would be inviting leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to the U.S. for a summit in the coming months to discuss strategic partnerships.
“Threats are evolving. Our security approach has to evolve with them. We’ll seek closer civilian security cooperation to tackle challenges ranging from violent extremism, to illegal fishing, to human trafficking,” said Blinken. “And we’ll adopt a strategy that more closely weaves together all our instruments of national power — diplomacy, military, intelligence — with those of our allies and our partners.”
The secretary stressed that the U.S. does not want conflict in the Indo-Pacific, pointing to continued diplomatic efforts with North Korea as evidence of this.
“And that’s why President Biden told President Xi last month that we share a profound responsibility to ensure that the competition between our countries does not veer into conflict,” he said, referring to China’s leader. “We take that responsibility with the greatest of seriousness, because the failure to do so would be catastrophic for all of us.”
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