US Vice President Mike Pence will deliver an address today on the administration’s strategy in Asia at the APEC summit in Papua New Guinea.
Pence will reportedly unveil a “private-sector driven model” to counter China’s Belt-and-Road Initiative in the Indo-Pacific region. The vice president’s speech comes as a commission has recommended to Congress that the US set up an investment fund to help countries as an alternative to borrowing from China.
Previously, the US announced $113 million of direct investment into the region along with infrastructure projects co-sponsored by Australia and Japan. However, Washington’s spending is dwarfed by the billions—estimates have ranged from $900 billion to more than one trillion—already invested or planned by China to support its initiative.
Unless the plan offered by Mr Pence marks a dramatic increase in US investment, it is unlikely to supplant China’s role in infrastructure investment on its own. But, when combined with souring opinion towards China and growing concern over debt owed to Beijing, Washington’s pitch could provide an outlet for distancing from Belt and Road.
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Nicholas is an Italian politics aficionado. Nick brings his knowledge of southern Europe to bear in The Daily Brief team, where he serves as a senior analyst and editor.