US launches new security fund to contain China in Southeast Asia

US launches new security fund to contain China in Southeast Asia

SINGAPORE: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pledged on Saturday to provide nearly $300 million in new security funding for Southeast Asia, as China forges ahead with plans to bolster its engagement in the region. link=

Pompeo unveiled the figure to reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of foreign ministers from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and other officials from around the world in Singapore.

“As part of our commitment to advancing regional security in the Indo-Pacific, the United States is excited to announce nearly $300 million in new funding to reinforce security cooperation throughout the entire region,” he said.

The new security assistance will strengthen maritime security, develop humanitarian assistance, peacekeeping capabilities and counter “transnational threats”, he added.

The United States said earlier this week it would invest $113 million in technology, energy and infrastructure initiatives in emerging Asia which he called “a down payment on a new era of US economic commitment to the region”.

The United States’ developing vision for a “free and open Indo-Pacific” comes at the same time as China ramps up its influence as part of is Belt and Road plan to bolster trade ties with nations in Southeast Asia and beyond.

Analysts have said that a spiraling trade dispute between Beijing and Washington could also ratchet up tensions over other regional hotspots, such as the South China Sea, claimed in whole by China and in part by some Southeast Asian nations.