US defends use of 'Indo-Pacific' over 'Asia-Pacific', says it reflects India's rise

US defends use of 'Indo-Pacific' over 'Asia-Pacific', says it reflects India's rise

WASHINGTON: The Trump administration has defended its use of the phrase "Indo-Pacific" instead of "Asia-Pacific", saying it captures "the importance of India's rise".

The phrase "captures the importance of the maritime free commons that allow our security and our prosperity to continue", a senior administration official told reporters during a media briefing on Sunday (Nov 5) after questions were raised on the increasing use of the phrase "Indo-Pacific" by the Trump administration and whether it is a strategy to contain the rise of China. 

"Containment, certainly not," the official said, saying that the United States is a Indo-Pacific power.

The official said that America's security and prosperity depend on the US maintaining access for free flow of commerce to this region, because it is a Pacific nation.

"A free and open Indo-Pacific speaks to that vision, that we want to see the continued stability. We want to reaffirm our commitment to the continued stability of this region, allowing for freedom of navigation, allowing for the marketplace and free markets, really, to drive the prosperity of this region," the official said.

United States President Donald Trump arrived in Japan for a 12-day Asian trip, where he will strengthen international resolve to denuclearise North Korea.

Stressing that the talks on a strategic dialogue between India, Japan, Australia and the US is not about containing China, the official said these ties are "long-standing". 

Neither the US nor Australia or Japan have a security alliance with India, the official said, saying that the US views India as an increasingly important security partner, adding that the country is "conceptually the western edge of the Indo-Pacific region; the United States making up the eastern edge of that".

"We have strong and growing ties with India," the official added, noting the rapid expansion of India's economy and population.

"This is a region that encompasses half of the world's people, more than a third of the world's economy.  Eventually, it's going to be pretty soon half of the world's economy."

The official stressed that this is a region that includes China, Japan, the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia.  It also includes Oceania, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, and US' longstanding ally, Australia, in the south.

"India to the west; the United States the east," the official said.

Source: CNA/kc