US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accuses Beijing of creating debt traps and energy blocks in wide-ranging spray

14-Mar-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:00 AM Print This Post

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has accused China of blocking energy development in the South China Sea through “coercive means”, preventing Southeast Asian countries from accessing more than $2.5 trillion in recoverable energy reserves.

Addressing top energy firm executives and oil ministers in Houston, Texas, Pompeo criticised “China’s illegal island building in international waterways”, insisting that it was not “simply a security matter”.

“By blocking energy development in the South China Sea to coerce, it means China prevents Asean members from accessing more than 21/2 trillion in recoverable energy resources,” he said on Tuesday.

“To contrast, the United States government promotes energy security for those Southeast Asian nations. We want countries in the region to have access to their own energy.”

 (South China Morning Post)

(South China Morning Post)

Pompeo’s remarks were the latest in a recent series of comments in which he has ramped up his laser-focused criticism of China. Last week, in Iowa, he said projects under China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” for infrastructure were “almost certainly designed for foreclosure”.

In a meeting with Iowa farmers affected by the US trade war with China, Pompeo also accused China of stealing sensitive technology “essential to farming”, citing two cases involving genetically modified rice and corn seeds.

In his latest comments in Houston, Pompeo went on to say that the US wanted to “create partnerships” with Southeast Asian countries.

“We want transparent transactions, not debt traps,” he said. “We explore responsibly. China doesn’t play by that same set of rules.”

Pompeo went on to criticise China for what he called “debt diplomacy”, claiming Chinese companies are the sole beneficiaries of their overseas investment.

China “often ships in its own labour, creating jobs for Chinese workers rather than for those in the local economy” in places such as Africa, he said.

“It’s using the debt trap… to put these countries in a place where it isn’t a commercial transaction. It’s a political transaction designed to bring harm and political influence in the country in which they’re operating.”

The US’s top diplomat then urged the oil industry to work with Washington to promote the American model, and to punish what he called “bad actors”.

“We need to roll up our sleeves and compete by facilitating investments all across the world and encouraging partners to buy from us, and by punishing the bad actors,” he urged.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in a daily press conference on Wednesday that China has already launched consultations with other Southeast Asian nations to resolve the South China Sea disputes, and called on non-claimant nations to keep out of the discussions.

“Nations in the region are capable of resolving and managing the dispute in their own ways,” Lu said. “Nations outside the region should refrain from stirring up trouble and disrupting the harmonious situation.”



Category: China

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