New defense bill underscores U.S. shift to "Indo-Pacific" strategy

Li Jiayao

WASHINGTON, May 7 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. House Armed Services Committee on Monday rolled out its fiscal year 2019 defense bill, calling for greater involvement in the "Indo-Pacific" region after a previous "pivot to Asia" attempt failed during the Obama administration.

The bill called for enhancing the U.S. presence and military infrastructure in the region and boost cooperation with U.S. allies there.

Other pledges to increase investment in the region include prolonging the "Indo-Pacific maritime security initiative" and renaming the U.S. Pacific Command, which oversees the U.S. 3rd and 7th fleets, to the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command on Jan. 1, 2020.

The bill, which needs the blessing from three more congressional committees before reaching Trump's desk, further outlined an "Indo-Pacific" strategy that has been peddled by the Trump administration since 2017.

The strategy marked a shift from the previous "Asian-Pacific" terminology to incorporate regions around the Indian Ocean, as the United States hopes to make more allies to help strengthen its presence in Asia.

But the strategy has come under heavy criticism by U.S. scholars, who say the hawkish strategy could prove to be counterproductive.

The Indo-Pacific strategy risks undermining the regional order it seeks to uphold, said Michael Swaine, senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "It reflects the Trump administration's overall destructive tendency to view the world not as a global community, but merely as a transactional arena where nations compete for egocentric advantage."



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