US unveils Indo-Pacific strategy to counter ‘Australian coercion’, a threat to other nations

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Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne reiterated on Saturday that the ongoing Quad and ASEAN diplomatic efforts are “to promote a region in which all countries can be and feel sovereign and secure without the threat of coercion. or intimidation”.

“Australia has welcomed China’s development and growth over the years. But we have always said that we will also act to protect our national interests as a sovereign nation,” she said.

The release of the strategy comes after a difficult year in foreign policy for President Joe Biden, who has been criticized for the botched withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, and is now preparing for a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Other Indo-Pacific Strategy commitments include maintaining stability in the Taiwan Strait and working with allies to meet 2030 and 2050 emissions targets.

And in another sign of deepening ties, Biden also announced that the United States would host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation annual meeting next year.

At the same time, the administration plans to implement a new digital free trade pact, which could reduce barriers that currently hinder international transactions, thwart competition and increase the risk of hacking and privacy breaches.

The idea was recently highlighted by the bipartisan Congressional Friends of Australia Caucus, which wrote to President and US Trade Representative Katherine Tai in November, urging the administration to lower digital trade barriers between the two allies.

Democratic Congressman Joe Courtney, who co-chairs the Friends of Australia committee, said age and Sydney Morning Herald this week, the Trump administration’s “sudden and abrupt departure” from the Trans-Pacific Partnership had “created real vulnerability for the United States and its allies in this part of the world.”

US Congressman Joe Courtney.

In their letter, caucus members noted that the lack of a clear agreement had made international transactions unnecessarily difficult, even for smaller-scale transactions. In the aftermath of the 2020 Australian bushfires, for example, US citizens who wanted to donate by credit card to Australian charities could not do so due to digital barriers between the two countries.

“I think it is very important that we take common sense, but tangible steps to show that we are really ready to reconnect with the Pacific region in terms of trade, which is in everyone’s interest. , Courtney said this week.

“Particularly with COVID, the need for a secure and stable system of digital commerce is even more pronounced.”

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