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Trump's China visit: US defends 'Indo-Pacific' concept

As US President Donald Trump began his China visit, a top official defended Washington's use of the new phrase 'Indo-Pacific' as a "useful construct" and pressed Beijing to join the campaign to target ISIS and the Taliban.

Trumps China visit: US defends Indo-Pacific concept
Donald Trump


"If you look at the geography and trade routes, the routes flow east and west across the Indo-Pacific region," US National Security Advisor H R McMaster told state media here explaining why Washington began using the new phrase changing it from the previously used 'Asia-Pacific' where the disputed South China Sea is also located. 

The Indo-Pacific apparently refers to the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean regions. 

Earlier, ahead of Trump's current East Asia tour, another top American official had defended the use of the 'Indo- Pacific' phrase instead of 'Asia Pacific', saying it captures the importance of the rise of India with which the US has strong and growing ties. 

Elaborating the US stand on this, McMaster told Chinese state-run China Global Television Network (CGTN) that "as you can see everyday it is a region that is more and more integrated economically. So it makes sense in terms of the construct to look at the regional perspective that way". 

"The other way is to look at the Euro Asian landmass and so forth. Because President Trump will be engaging leaders from across the Indo-Pacific region during this trip, it is a useful construct," he said. 

Yesterday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying had dismissed media reports about Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Trump reaching an agreement on the strategic concept of building a free and open Indo-Pacific region is "gas and speculation". 

"We have indeed noted that recently this concept has been mentioned many times," she said replying to question about reports of an agreement between Abe and Trump during their summit meeting in Tokyo. 

"I think that whatever concept or term is employed, we must by no means lose sight of such an objective fact: this region has grown into the most vibrant region with the greatest potential in the world and serves as a major engine for global economic growth," she said. 

A senior White House official said in Tokyo on November 5 that "we have strong and growing ties with India. We talk about 'Indo-Pacific' in part because that phrase captures the importance of India's rise". 

"And the strategy is certainly not to contain China. Containment, certainly not," the White House official said on condition of anonymity. 

McMaster also said China should join the crackdown against terror havens of the Taliban and Islamic State (IS). 

Besides helping the US and the world to control the North Korean nuclear weapons programme, he said China should combat global terror networks. ISIS particularly is about to be defeated in Iraq and Syria and will lose their safe havens and support bases, he said. 

There are more and more effective operations against the Taliban and Haqqani network and ISIS in Central Asia, McMaster said without directly referring to pressure being exerted by the US on Pakistan to crackdown on Taliban's terror bases. 

"We have an opportunity to improve our intelligence sharing, our law enforcement efforts, counter terror finance efforts," he said, adding "these are some of the many areas where Chinese and US interests are very much aligned and allows us to work more closely together".

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