US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced details of a plan for development in the Indo-Pacific region on Monday, pledging US$113 million in investments focused on energy, infrastructure and digital connectivity.
While Pompeo stressed that the program did not intend to compete with China’s Belt and Road Initiative, his speech spoke to several criticisms levied at Beijing’s investments.
“With American companies, citizens around the world know that what you see is what you get: honest contracts, honest terms, and no need for off-the-books mischief,” Pompeo said while speaking at the event at the US Chamber of Commerce.
“For us the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act is not just a law – it is a point of pride. Integrity in businesses’ practices is an essential pillar of our Indo-Pacific economic vision.”
His comments reflected criticisms from the US, along with European allies and Japan, that Beijing’s ambitious initiative to fund infrastructure and economic development projects around the globe lacks transparency.
“The Trump administration is committed to expanding our economic engagement in the Indo-Pacific region,” Pompeo said, adding “we believe in strategic partnerships, not strategic dependency.”
The announcement comes as the White House faces domestic criticism for what some have characterized as an isolationist foreign policy and a withdrawal from economic engagement around the globe.
Pompeo stressed at the event that, while the administration withdrew for the multilateral Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, the US is working “to craft better, higher-standard bilateral trade agreements.”
“These funds represent just a down payment on a new era in US economic commitment to peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region,” he added.