Pence blunt on Indo-Pacific commitments

The US Vice-President did not mince words today at the APEC CEO Summit when speaking on their commitment to the Indo-Pacific region.

Mike Pence acknowledged the size and economic potential of the Indo-Pacific, saying it encompasses more than half the earth’s surface and two-thirds of global trade.

Sent directly by President Donald Trump, Vice-President Pence clearly and directly highlighted US’ contributions to the Indo-Pacific, saying their investment of over 1.4 trillion dollars exceeds a combined total of China, Japan and South Korea’s assistance.

“And American investment in the Indo-Pacific will only continue to grow,” Pence stated.

He said while the US has been forging new trade deals, they have also stood up to countries that resort to unfair trade practices.  

“Just look at the stand that President Trump has taken on our trading relationship with China,” he stated.

“We have great respect for President Xi, and great respect for China but, in the President’s words, ‘China has taken advantage of the United States for many, many years. And those days are over,’” he bluntly stated.

Pence spoke of the decisive action taken to address the trade imbalance with China, imposing tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese imports.

Pence said beyond trade the United States is promoting private investment in the Indo-Pacific as never before, where American firms hire and train workers whilst holding themselves to the highest standards.

“They don’t serve a distant capital, they bring benefits directly to your country, and you need not look further than Papua New Guinea for proof.

“As we’re all aware, some are offering infrastructure loans to governments across the Indo-Pacific and the wider world, yet the terms of those loans are often opaque at best, projects they support are often unsustainable and of poor quality. And too often they come with strings attached and lead to staggering debt.

“Do not accept foreign debt that could compromise your sovereignty. Protect your interest, preserve your independence.”

The Vice-President further announced that they will partner with PNG and Australia on their joint initiative at the Lombrum Naval Base in Manus.

Before the US Vice-President’s arrival at the Summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke against protectionism, which is a type of policy that limits unfair competition from foreign industries, and unilateralism – an approach where one state ignores the interests of other states.

“Attempts to erect barriers and cut the close economic ties among countries work against the laws of economics. This is a short-sighted approach and it is doomed to failure,” he said.

(US Vice-President Mike Pence at the APEC CEO Summit today)

Carmella Gware