Pence says ’empire and aggression’ don’t have any place in Indo-Pacific

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SINGAPORE (Reuters) – U.S. Vice President Mike Pence informed leaders of Southeast Asian nations on Thursday that there isn’t any place for “empire and aggression” within the Indo-Pacific area, a remark which may be broadly interpreted as a reference to China’s rise.

Pence didn’t point out China in his remarks on the opening of a summit with Affiliation of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Singapore, however confused that small nations in addition to giant ones ought to be allowed to prosper within the Indo-Pacific.

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“Such as you, we search an Indo-Pacific wherein all nations, giant and small, can prosper and thrive – safe in our sovereignty, assured in our values, and rising stronger collectively,” he mentioned. “All of us agree that empire and aggression don’t have any place within the Indo-Pacific.”

He mentioned Washington had taken motion to advertise this imaginative and prescient, together with steps to spur non-public funding in infrastructure and a pursuit of commerce that’s “free, honest, and reciprocal”.

The vp additionally highlighted the USA’ “strain marketing campaign” on North Korea, its “dedication to uphold the liberty of the seas and skies” and willpower to make sure that Southeast Asian nations are safe of their sovereign borders, on land, and at sea within the digital world.

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Pence’s feedback observe a serious speech in October wherein he flagged a harder strategy by Washington towards Beijing, accusing China of “malign” efforts to undermine U.S. President Donald Trump and reckless army actions within the South China Sea.

America has performed a sequence of “freedom of navigation” workout routines within the contested South China Sea, angering Beijing, which says the strikes threaten its sovereignty.

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China’s claims within the South China Sea, by means of which some $three trillion of shipborne commerce passes annually, are contested by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Beijing and Washington are locked in a commerce struggle wherein they’ve imposed more and more extreme rounds of tariffs on one another’s imports.

(Reporting by John Chalmers; Enhancing by Michael Perry)

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