Published:  05:12 AM, 08 October 2019

Indo-Pacific strategy is not to contain China Says US Ambassador

Indo-Pacific strategy is not to contain China Says US Ambassador US Ambassador Earl Miller speaking at a workshop on Indo-Pacific Strategy for journalists in the capital on Monday.

US Ambassador in Dhaka Earl Miller has said the Indo-Pacific Strategy which plays a 'central role' in American foreign policy is not a direct response to China's Belt and Road initiative."The Indo-Pacific Strategy is about far more than just infrastructure development, and it does not exclude any nation," he said.

"This vision is not about matching China dollar-for-dollar or creating our version of the Belt and Road Initiative. We do not and will not ask any country to choose between the United States and China."

The ambassador made the remarks at a workshop on Indo-Pacific Strategy for journalists in Dhaka on Monday, reports bdnews24.comThe Indo-Pacific strategy is seen as crafted by Washington to counter Chinese 'String of Pearls' which is a geopolitical theory on potential Chinese intentions to create network of Beijing's military and commercial facilities and relationships along its sea lines of communication, which extend from the Chinese mainland to Port Sudan in the Horn of Africa.

The sea lines run through several major maritime points such as the Strait of Mandeb, the Strait of Malacca, the Strait of Hormuz, and the Lombok Strait as well as other strategic maritime centers in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, the Maldives, and Somalia.

"Is the Indo-Pacific Strategy the United States' direct response to China's Belt and Road Initiative?" or "Is it meant to contain China?" - the simple answer is 'No'," the ambassador said.

Miller explained the strategy and said it is the whole-of-government approach "to boost US-Indo-Pacific relations, and to protect and advance our shared principles at a time when the region faces new challenges and opportunities."

"The Indo-Pacific Strategy supports a free and open Indo-Pacific in which sovereign and independent nations like Bangladesh can prosper in freedom and peace.

"So, it empowers Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, and Nepal, and others - every country in the region - to create their destiny, not one dictated by any other nation.

"This vision is rooted in the fact that the United States, as I said, is an Indo-Pacific country itself, and is deeply invested - literally and figuratively," he said.  "In my view, a rising tide lifts all boats."

"Our long history of shared success is the bedrock of our ties, and the Indo-Pacific Strategy is our vision to boost these ties at this critical time. That's why we're working with key partners, like Bangladesh, to protect and enhance a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific," Ambassador Miller continued.

"Of course, like the United States, China is an Indo-Pacific nation, and we welcome constructive participation by all countries that uphold an international system based on clear, fair, and transparent rules."And as you know, China is currently engaged in several major infrastructure projects in Bangladesh.

"And these contributions to Bangladesh's economy are incredibly valuable, as long as these projects are commercially competitive, and transparent, and follow international rules which offer a level playing field to all.

"When the United States sees challenges to these free and open standards that's governed the Indo-Pacific in its historic growth - yes, we will push back, because we believe a rules-based order, where countries adhere to international laws, rules, and standards, will best allow nations of all sizes to prosper in freedom and peace," he said.

The Indo-Pacific Strategy focuses on three areas:  economics, good governance, and security.Estimates show that this region will require about $26 trillion in infrastructure development by 2030.

Miller added: "No one country, either through government or state-owned enterprises, can provide such a level of funding or support.  It must come from the private sector.

"The Indo-Pacific Strategy is helping the US private sector do what it does best:  spark economic growth, innovation, and long-lasting prosperity.

"We want to make sure both private companies and the Bangladesh government understand how to tap into this incredible potential," he said.

"We want US companies such as Chevron, Coca-Cola, and others to continue to invest in Bangladesh and introduce new innovative technologies into the economy, bringing shared prosperity to more and more people."

He, however, sais their second focus is that in order for nations to attract greater private sector investment there must be "strong governance".

"Weak institutions, corruption, and poor human rights conditions are all risks for businesses, and deter investment.  Companies can easily look elsewhere when faced with such risks.

"Our focus on strengthening good governance goes hand-in-hand with the economic pillar of our vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific.

"Transparency is a key principle identified by Indo-Pacific nations and regional institutions as fundamental to realising our vision," said the ambassador.

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