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Asia Minute: More Money for Indo-Pacific Projects

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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is heading to Southeast Asia this week. The trip comes as the United States has announced plans to spend more than 100 million dollars on infrastructure in the Indo-Pacific, as part of a larger strategy involving two regional U.S. allies.

Australia’s Foreign Minister calls it a “trilateral partnership,” along with the United States and Japan. It’s a spending deal on infrastructure in the Indo-Pacific region; including energy, transportation, technology, and tourism.

The Australian government did not have any financial details — saying more information will come “in due course.” Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary also had few specifics. Although he said this was not in direct response to China’s regional infrastructure package called the “Belt and Road Initiative.”

But it’s tough to avoid a comparison.

That massive Chinese plan involves highways, railways, ports, pipelines and power plants. Morgan Stanley says the size of the Chinese projects could grow as high as 1.3 trillion dollars over the next decade.

On Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced a 113-million dollar U.S. investment, or at least a down payment, on regional infrastructure when he spoke to the Indo-Pacific Business Forum in Washington.

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Congressman Mike Pompeo speaking at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, DC | October, 2011

He also had few details, and left the event without taking any questions from reporters.

Look for more bullet points in coming days as Pompeo travels to Southeast Asia — starting in Malaysia. He’ll also attend a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN in Singapore, and make a final stop in Indonesia.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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