TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Speaking at a press conference in Sydney, Australia, on Sunday (Aug. 4), U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper noted that China has in recent years displayed a “disturbing pattern of aggressive behavior” in the South China Sea. Esper emphasized that the U.S. is firmly opposed to Beijing’s destabilizing influence in the region.
Esper, who was accompanied by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, emphasized that the U.S. remains committed to its partnerships in Asia and to the task of maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific. As a Pacific nation, the Indo-Pacific is a "priority theater" for U.S. foreign policy and national security, said Esper. The defense secretary said that the U.S. would not stand idly by as China attempts to weaponize “the global commons using predatory economics and debt-for-sovereignty deals and promoting state-sponsored theft of other nations’ intellectual property,” at the expense of U.S. allies.
In a statement directed at Australia during Sunday’s press briefing, Mike Pompeo noted that it is not Washington’s intention to inhibit China’s growth or force nations to choose sides between the U.S. or China. He clarified that cooperation is the goal and that the U.S. intends to ensure security and prosperity throughout the Indo-Pacific, reports Bloomberg.
To ensure such stability, Esper and Pompeo both insisted that the U.S. will stand against China’s continued militarization of the region. They also recognized the importance of the Australia-U.S. relationship to ensure peace and prosperity for all nations, large and small, of the Indo-Pacific.