Remarks by Secretary Mattis at Plenary Session of the 2018 Shangri-La Dialogue (Excerpts)

[…] Today I come to share the Trump administration’s whole-of-government Indo-Pacific strategy which espouses the shared principles that underpin a free-and-open Indo Pacific.

[…] Standing shoulder to shoulder with India, ASEAN and our treaty allies and other partners, America seeks to build an Indo-Pacific where sovereignty and territorial integrity are safeguarded –the promise of freedom fulfilled and prosperity prevails for all.

[…] America’s Indo-Pacific strategy is a subset of our broader security strategy, codifying our principles as America continues to look West. In it we see deepening alliances and partnerships as a priority, ASEAN’s centrality remains vital, and cooperation with China is welcome wherever possible. And while we explore new opportunities for meaningful multilateral cooperation, we will deepen our engagement with existing regional mechanisms at the same time.

[…], America is in the Indo-Pacific to stay. This is our priority theater, our interests, and the regions are inextricably intertwined. Our Indo-Pacific strategy makes significant security, economic, and development investments, ones that demonstrate our commitment to allies and partners in support of our vision of a safe, secure, prosperous, and free Indo-Pacific based on shared principles with those nations, large and small.

Ones who believe their future lies in respect for sovereignty and independence of every nation, no matter its size, and freedom for all nations wishing to transit international waters and airspace, in peaceful dispute resolution without coercion, in free, fair, and reciprocal trade and investment, and in adherence to international rules and norms that have provided this region with relative peace and growing prosperity for the last decades.

To these principles, America is true in both word and deed. In our economics, we seek fair competition. We do not practice predatory economics, and we stand consistent with our principles. The U.S. strategy recognizes no one nation can or should dominate the Indo-Pacific.

For those who want peace and self-determination, we all have shared responsibility to work together to build our shared future. As we look to that future, our Indo-Pacific strategy will bring to bear U.S. strengths and advantages, reinvigorating areas of underinvestment.

This morning, I’d like to highlight several themes of our strategy. First, expanding attention on the maritime space. The maritime commons is a global good, and sea lanes of communication are the arteries of economic vitality for all. Our vision is to preserve that vitality by helping our partners build up naval and law enforcement capabilities and capacities to improve monitoring and protection of maritime orders and interests.

Second, interoperability. We recognize that a network of allies and partners is a force multiplier for peace. Therefore, we will ensure that our military is able to more easily integrate with others. This applies to both hardware and software by promoting financing and sales of cutting-edge U.S. defense equipment to security partners at opening the aperture of U.S. professional military education to more Indo-Pacific military noncommissioned officers and officers.

Through our security cooperation, we are building closer relationships between our militaries and our economies, all of which contributes to enduring trust.

The third theme is strengthening the rule of law, civil society, and transparent governance. This is the sunlight that exposes the malign influence that threatens to stain all economic development. Our defense engagements reinforce this theme, whether our professional military education or combined military exercises, or the day to day interactions between our soldiers, sailers, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen and the armed forces from across the region.

A fourth theme is the private sector-led economic development. The United States recognizes the region’s need for greater investment, including in infrastructure. We are invigorating our development and finance institutions to enable us to be better, more responsive partners.

[…] The U.S. stands ready to cooperate with all nations to achieve this vision. While a free and open Indo-Pacific is in all our interests, it will only be possible if we all pull together to uphold it. To protect shared principles, we will continue partnering with the existing regional institutions.

[…] As a Pacific nation, the United States remains committed to building a shared destiny with this region. The U.S. offers strategic partnerships, not strategic dependence. Alongside our allies and partners, America remains committed to maintaining the region’s security, its stability and its economic prosperity, a view that transcends America’s political transitions, and we’ll continue to enjoy Washington’s strong bipartisan support.

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