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US pledges $300m security funding for south-east Asia

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi (6th from L) poses with (L to 5th L) Laos' Minister of Foreign Affairs Saleumxay Kommasith, Malaysia's Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah, Myanmar's Union Minister for the Office of the State Counsellor U Kyaw Tint, Thailand's Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai, Vietnam's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh, (6th R to R) Singapore's Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan, Philippines' Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, Brunei's Second Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Erywan Yusof, Cambodia's permanent representative to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Kan Pharidh, Indonesia's Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, and ASEAN Secretary General Lim Jock Hoi during a bilateral meeting at the 51st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Ministerial Meeting in Singapore on August 2, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / ROSLAN RAHMAN / “The erroneous mention[s] appearing in the metadata of this photo by ROSLAN RAHMAN has been modified in AFP systems in the following manner: [adding identity of Cambodia's permanent representative to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Kan Pharidh]. Please immediately remove the erroneous mention[s] from all your online services and delete it (them) from your servers. If you have been authorized by AFP to distribute it (them) to third parties, please ensure that the same actions are carried out by them. Failure to promptly comply with these instructions will entail liability on your part for any continued or post notification usage. Therefore we thank you very much for all your attention and prompt action. We are sorry for the inconvenience this notification may cause and remain at your disposal for any further information you may require.
AFP

BEIJING on Saturday vowed to maintain its military presence in the South China Sea, insisting the US is “the biggest force for militarisation in this region” after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pledged US$300 million to boost security in the Indo-Pacific.

The investment is part of US efforts to counter China’s influence in the region, but Beijing and regional analysts said the amount was too small to have any real impact.

Pompeo made the announcement in Singapore at the annual meeting of Association of Southeast Asian Nations foreign ministers, which finishes on Saturday.

It comes amid growing economic and geopolitical rivalry between China and the United States. Beijing on Friday said it would impose 5 to 25 per cent tariffs on US$60 billion worth of American goods, in response to a US threat to slap duties on US$200 billion of Chinese products.

Also in Singapore, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the tariffs were “a necessary and a justified response … in the interests of the Chinese people”.

Pompeo said the US tariffs and its tussle with China were part of Washington’s efforts to correct “an unfair trade regime where American workers in American companies are not treated reciprocally or fairly by the Chinese”.

Washington has also been stepping up pressure on Beijing on the security front. Speaking on the sidelines of the Asean meeting, Pompeo said the additional US$300 million in security assistance would be used to advance US priorities, especially strengthening maritime security, developing humanitarian assistance and peacekeeping capabilities.

The US secretary of state announced an initial US$113 million budget for Indo-Pacific development before he left for his five-day Asia trip. He described that as a “down payment” on Washington’s commitment to the region, stressing that the Indo-Pacific was an important engine for economic growth.

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