U.S. Secretary of State of Mike Pompeo is flying to India next week to strengthen strategic ties with a nation that is locked in a military standoff with China, in Washington’s latest effort to bolster allies against Beijing.
As part of an intensifying pushback against China’s economic and military power in the region, Pompeo will also travel to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, two Indian Ocean countries struggling with a mountain of Chinese debt incurred to finance big infrastructure projects.
Pompeo will conclude his trip, which comes in the final week before the U.S. presidential election, in Indonesia, which is also locked in territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea.
“We’re looking forward to strengthening critical relationships with our friends and partners, emphasizing our deep commitment to the Indo-Pacific and advancing our vision for long-term partnership and prosperity in the region,” said Dean Thompson, principal deputy assistant secretary at the State Department’s Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs.
Washington has been ramping up diplomatic pressure on China, and President Donald Trump has made being tough on Beijing a key part of his campaign to secure a second term.
Pompeo led a meeting of foreign ministers from India, Japan and Australia this month in Tokyo, a grouping that could be a bulwark against China’s growing assertiveness in the region.