US official says diplomatic foray into Asia is paying dividends

BANGKOK — The American diplomatic push aimed at countering China’s increasing influence in the Asia-Pacific region appears to be paying off as many nations are willing to cooperate with the United States, a senior State Department official said on Friday.

US State Department adviser Derek Chollet told The Associated Press it was noteworthy that this was the case 13 nations 40% of the global economy had joined Indo-Pacific Economic Framework that President Joe Biden started in Japan End of May. He said that around the same time, China failed in its attempt to get a group of Pacific islands to endorse a comprehensive deal with Beijing.


China had deviated from its traditional approach of negotiating one-on-one with countries behind the scenes to send Foreign Minister Wang Yi island hopping trip last month to try to get 10 Pacific nations on board the deal, which covers a wide range of areas including security and fisheries.

But he failed to reach consensus on the deal at a meeting in Fiji and instead had to settle for it smaller bilateral agreements with some of them.

“I think that the fact that the Chinese foreign minister’s trip to try and launch this very bold initiative or partnership cooperation wasn’t really well received shows to me that the Pacific island nations want this one.” engaged to us,” Chollet said in an interview in Bangkok.


Chollet is in the middle of a trip to Thailand, Brunei and Singapore, while US Assistant Secretary of State Wendy Sherman is simultaneously visiting the Philippines, South Korea, Laos and Vietnam.

In addition, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is a keynote speaker at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, Asia’s premier defense and security forum, over the weekend and will visit Thailand next week.

The face-to-face outreach is part of an approach that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in May means “putting diplomacy back at the heart of American foreign policy.”

“We are committed … to be present, to be engaged — not just as a visitor from Washington, but permanently,” Chollet said.

The push in Asia comes amid growing concerns about China’s own efforts to expand its influence in the region.

Part of Beijing’s focus has been the South China Sea, where the Philippines and Vietnam, among others, have grappled with China’s efforts to virtually dominate the strategic waterway it claims. The US and its allies have responded with so-called freedom of navigation patrols, which have sometimes been pushed back by China’s military.


Beijing does signed a security agreement with the Solomons in April that the US, Australia and others fear it could lead to a Chinese naval base in the South Pacific. And on Wednesday, China and Cambodia Groundbreaking ceremony for a port expansion Project at Cambodia’s Ream Naval Base, giving China a strategically important military facility in the Gulf of Thailand, although Cambodia has denied this will be the case.

When blinking Speech at the end of May Outlining the Biden administration’s approach to China, he said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine was a “clear and present threat,” but China’s ambitions were an even greater challenge.


“Even as President Putin’s war continues, we will remain focused on the most serious long-term challenge to the international order – and that is that of the People’s Republic of China,” he said.

Many countries in the region have close ties with China, and Chollet said the US approach has not been to ask any nation to choose one side or the other, but to recognize its ties with Beijing while openly acknowledging Washington’s concerns be.

“We hear that we’re not just customers or countries that we do business with, we want to be partners and that’s certainly the spirit in which we engage them,” he said.

At the same time, the US also recognizes the need to work with a world power like China on international issues such as the coronavirus pandemic and climate change, with China and the US being the top two emitters of greenhouse gases, he said.

“There are parts of the relationship that are conflicted, where the US and China just fundamentally disagree, there are parts that are competitive … and there are parts of the relationship that are cooperative, or at least we hope they are cooperative.” , ” he said.


“Unfortunately, that’s a narrowing range of issues, but with climate change, for example, it’s just math that we need to be able to find a way to work together if we’re going to be successful.”

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission. US official says diplomatic foray into Asia is paying dividends

Sarah Y. Kim

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