US Indo-Pacific strategy not targeting China: envoy
By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora
MANILA (Philippines News Agency) — The United States is not targeting China or any other countries in the implementation of its Indo-Pacific strategy which expands Washington’s presence in the region, US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim said Tuesday.
In explaining the principle of this track, Kim said the US only seeks to support a peaceful, open, and free Indo-Pacific.
“Our approach is both on principles that are widely-shared throughout the region ensuring the freedom of the seas and skies,” he said.
He added Washington seeks “partnership not domination,” especially stronger cooperation with partner countries and regional institutions such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
“So, I’m often asked what about China? It’s a timely question as you have a visitor in town,” said the envoy, referring to the historic state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“Let me assure you that our Indo-Pacific strategy is not targeted at China or any other country. Rather, it is rooted in outstanding friendships and values we share with our partners and communities in the region,” Kim said, offering an answer as to how US would respond to “China’s word war.”
Tension escalated between Washington and Beijing over trade disputes and after a near encounter in the South China Sea.
In September 2018, a Chinese and an American destroyer nearly clashed after sailing close at each other near an artificial feature in the Kalayaan Island Group, prompting a protest from Beijing’s side.
US wants a “constructive, results-oriented relationship with China wherever possible,” said Kim as he pointed out they have “no intention of making” countries choose between the two superpowers.
“We have no intention of making countries choose between the US and China. In fact, we welcome contributions by China toward regional development so long as it adheres to the highest standards the people of the region demand including in areas such as transparency, rule of law and sustainable financing,” Kim said.
On the other hand, activities that do not adhere to these principles undermine prosperity and stability in the region, he noted.
Kim committed that US will continue “to raise concerns about actions by any country that challenge the rules-based order which underpin years of peace, stability and economic growth in this dynamic region.”
Kim made these remarks during a speech at the Mangrove Forum on the Philippines-United States alliance in commemoration of the 67th anniversary of the signing of the Mutual Defense Treaty in 1951.
Joining Kim as discussants were Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla, Armed Forces of the Philippines Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans, and Dr. Renato de Castro, professor at the De La Salle University-International Studies Department. (PNA)