Pentagon chief: US opposes ‘destabilizing’ behavior by China in Indo-Pacific

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The United States opposes destabilizing behavior by China in the Indo-Pacific, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Sunday, as the two nations wage an escalating trade war.

“We firmly believe no one nation can or should dominate the Indo-Pacific and we are working alongside our allies and partners to address the region’s pressing security needs, Esper told reporters in Sydney.


China’s increasing assertiveness, especially in the energy-rich South China Sea, has raised concerns within the region and the United States is challenging Chinese maritime hegemony and seeking stronger ties with nations pushing back against Beijing.

“We also stand firmly against a disturbing pattern of aggressive behavior, destabilizing behavior from China. This includes weaponizing the global commons, using predatory economics and debt for sovereignty deals, and promoting state-sponsored theft of other nations’ intellectual property,” said Esper.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday decried “decades of bad behavior” from China that have hampered free trade, laying out a case at a Southeast Asian forum for Washington’s escalating trade war with Beijing.

Esper and Pompeo met with their Australian counterparts in Sydney on Sunday.

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