US Vice-President Mike Pence will continue the Trump administration’s assault on China’s “authoritarianism and aggression”, using a speech in Australia’s backyard to business chiefs to outline the US’s rival vision for the Indo-Pacific that extols the superiority of private investment over state-controlled funding to build regional infrastructure.
With Donald Trump opting to skip the East Asia and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summits this week, Mr Pence and the President’s hardline national security adviser John Bolton will travel to Singapore and Papua New Guinea to push back against Beijing’s attempt to assert its influence on both economic and security fronts.
Mr Pence will also hold a series of bilateral meetings with Prime Minister Scott Morrison and other key regional leaders, but the centrepiece of his trip is a speech at the APEC chief executive forum on Saturday morning in Port Moresby. Mr Pence will deliver his speech just minutes after Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks at the forum, which Mr Morrison will also address.
US officials said the speech would “connect” to one Mr Pence delivered in early October accusing China of stealing US intellectual property, suppressing human rights and meddling in US elections – an address analysts said marked the start of a cold war between Washington DC and Beijing.