Trump's Indo-Pacific strategy very different from Belt and Road Initiative

The United States-initiated "Indo-Pacific" strategy, which might bring some investment projects to the Asia Pacific region, is hugely different from the China-backed Belt and Road Initiative, according to an expert.

In a recent interview with, Matt Ferchen, a non-resident scholar at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy, said that the Beijing-backed Belt and Road Initiative could not be simply interpreted as a Western-style "economic assistance" or a geo-economic leverage to gain regional political influence because the Chinese-proposed blueprint gave an opportunity to the countries especially the developing nations along the route to grow their economies, thus increasing the security and stability in the region.

During his Asia trip in November, US President Donald Trump replaced then President Barack Obama's Asia-Pacific policy with the "free and open Indo-Pacific" concept, which is believed by many analysts as a clear sign that America would move away from a China-centric narrative of Asia. The Indian Ocean is of great importance to China as the region is involved in the Belt and Road Initiative, which the US sees as a tool to increase Chinese influence.

Establishing a governments-led economic scheme like the Belt and Road Initiative and the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, the initiative's auxiliary institution designed to give loans to infrastructure investment projects, is not a typical method that the US prefers to use in offering "economic assistance", even though the "Indo-Pacific" strategy might bring some investment projects financed by the American private companies to the developing countries in the Asia Pacific region, said Ferchen, adding that the United States would not use the Chinese way to compete with China.

The expert described the Belt and Road Initiative as an "output package", which wants China to be treated as the powerhouse of the global economy by providing the countries along the route with more business opportunities, saying that it in turn proves what China advocates in global governance.

In the recent years, China has built good ties with many countries in the Asia Pacific region, Latin America and Africa by means of trade, investment and financial services. However, it differs from the "economic assistance" offered by the Western countries, said Ferchen, explaining that China does not see it as a "threat" but a positive contribution to the global security and governance.

With the rise of China's economic status, it is not necessary to use geo-economics to stir up China's threat, and China's ability of impacting the surrounding countries is also overestimated, said Ferchen.

The United States should see the "Chinese plan" with a brand-new perspective, even though one motive of China's global ambition is to serve Chinese interests, according to the expert.

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