Singapore’s primary Chinese language newspaper Lianhe Zaobao recently reported that Daniel Kritenbrink, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said that the U.S. has no intention of engaging with China in the upcoming Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. However, it is in discussions with partners who share the same vision for a free and open region without coercion. The U.S. is in preliminary talks on the Economic Framework and currently does not intend to involve the People’s Republic of China in the Framework. Kritenbrink said that the U.S. is in initial dialogues with partners across the region who share the same vision of living again in a free and open region where nations are free to pursue economic and security interests. The United States released an Indo-Pacific strategy report on the 11th of this month, vowing to invest more diplomatic and security resources in the Indo-Pacific region to resist China, which it accused of trying to expand its influence in the Indo-Pacific region. This is the first regional strategy report of the U.S. Biden Administration. The strategy report said it will focus on the areas from South Asia to the Pacific Islands to strengthen the United States’ long-term position and commitment to the Indo-Pacific region. According to a recent study that the ASEAN Studies Centre – ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore conducted, the U.S. government refocused on Indo-Pacific, boosting Southeast Asian countries’ confidence in U.S. leadership. However, in terms of economic, political and strategic influence, Southeast Asian countries generally believe that China has more influence in the region.
Source: Lianhe Zaobao, February 17, 2022