The Trump Administration & US - Indo-Pacific Relations

This resource will track statements, developments, visits, and other interactions in US-Indo-Pacific relations under the President Trump administration. Special focus will be given to the comments and activities of President Donald J. Trump; Vice President Mike Pence; United States Trade Representative Ambassador Robert E. Lighthizer; Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark Esper; Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, Jr.; former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson; and former Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

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Secretary Esper's Speech at RAND - China

"Today, in this era of great power competition, the Department of Defense has prioritized China then Russia, as our top strategic competitors. These revisionist powers are using predatory economics, political subversion, and military force in an attempt to shift the balance of power in their favor, and often at the expense of others.

China for example is exerting its malign influence through its “One-Belt, One-Road” Initiative. This campaign has left weaker nations with crushing debt, forcing them to take their economic relief at the expense…

Secretary Esper's Remarks at the Artificial Intelligence Symposium - China

Secretary of Defense Remarks for the Commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the End of World War II

"Today, in the face of new challenges to this free and open order, we are working to build an even broader coalition of partners – one that includes both longtime friends and former adversaries – to protect the hard-fought gains of generations past and present…especially in the Pacific. We share an important goal – defending the sacred principles that benefit us all: democracy, liberty, sovereignty, human rights, mutual respect, and the rule of law.

To do so, we continue to forge new partnerships and…

Readout of Secretary Esper's Phone Call With President Gotabaya Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka

"Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark T. Esper spoke with Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa over the phone today. During the call, Secretary Esper congratulated the President on his successful handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent conclusion of parliamentary elections, and urged continued progress on reconciliation and human rights in Sri Lanka. The two leaders discussed their shared commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific that ensures the sovereignty of all nations. Reviewing common bilateral defense priorities, they noted opportunities to enhance military professionalization…

Readout of Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark T. Esper's Virtual Meeting With the Singapore Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen

"On August 30, Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper met virtually with his Singapore counterpart, Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen to discuss the U.S.-Singapore bilateral defense relationship. Secretary Esper expressed solidarity with Singapore's efforts to address the COVID-19 outbreak and applauded Singapore's success in its pandemic response. Secretary Esper expressed appreciation for the regional access that Singapore provides U.S. forces, and its commitment to continued access made possible by renewal of the 1990 Memorandum of Understanding Regarding United States Use of Facilities in Singapore…

Readout of Secretary Esper's Meeting With Japanese Defense Minister Taro Kono

"On August 29, Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper hosted Japanese Defense Minister Taro Kono in Guam, where they reaffirmed the strength of the U.S.-Japan Alliance and discussed ways to deepen and expand bilateral defense cooperation.

Secretary Esper and Minister Kono exchanged views on their shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific region. The Secretary expressed serious concern regarding Beijing’s decision to impose a national security law in Hong Kong, as well as coercive and destabilizing actions vis-à-vis Taiwan. Both Ministers restated their commitment…

Secretary Esper's Meeting With the President of the Republic of Palau and Other Members of his Cabinet

"Today, Secretary Mark T. Esper became the first Secretary of Defense to visit Palau. Secretary Esper met with the President of the Republic of Palau and other members of his Cabinet. The two leaders reinforced the importance of the Compact of Free Association and exchanged views on current regional security issues and concerns. Secretary Esper and President Remengesau emphasized their support for the ongoing negotiations to extend the Compact, and they expressed a desire for continued progress and a swift conclusion of the talks. Both…

Readout of Secretary Esper's Call With Papua New Guinea Minister for Defense Saki Soloma

"On August 26, Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper spoke with the Papua New Guinea (PNG) Minister for Defense, Saki Soloma; a historic first call between the defense counterparts. Secretary Esper and Minister Soloma spoke to the importance of upholding international rules and norms and their commitment to defending a free and open Indo-Pacific region. Both leaders reinforced the strength of the bilateral relationship and discussed pressing regional security issues. The principals concluded the conversation by reaffirming their commitment to future cooperation and collaboration in…

Secretary Esper's Remarks at the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies 25th Anniversary Speaker Event

Readout of Secretary Esper's Call with Mongolian Minister of Defense Saikhanbayar

"On August 24, Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper held a telephone call with his Mongolian counterpart, Minister of Defense G. Saikhanbayar.

Secretary Esper reaffirmed our shared commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific and thanked Mongolia for its continued contributions to global peacekeeping operations and Coalition efforts in Afghanistan.

Both leaders agreed to develop further the bilateral strategic partnership under Mongolia’s “third neighbor policy,” which Secretary Esper characterized as important for maintaining Mongolia’s sovereignty and supporting its force modernization."

Readout of Secretary Esper's Telephone Call with the People's Republic of China's Minister of National Defense General Wei Fenghe

"On August 6, 2020, Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper held a telephone call with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) Minister of National Defense, General Wei Fenghe.

Secretary Esper called for greater PRC transparency on COVID, expressed concern about PRC destabilizing activity in the vicinity of Taiwan and the South China Sea, and called on the PRC to honor international obligations under the principles of the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration. Secretary Esper communicated the importance that the PRC abide by international laws, rules…