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Secretary of Defense Austin commits to Indo-Pacific partnerships

By
Kyle Barnett
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin called for more partnership in the Indo-Pacific region on Tuesday during a speech in Singapore. Photo by Sarah Silbiger/UPI
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin called for more partnership in the Indo-Pacific region on Tuesday during a speech in Singapore. Photo by Sarah Silbiger/UPI | License Photo

July 27 (UPI) -- Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III emphasized U.S. partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region in a speech in Singapore Tuesday.

Speaking at the Fullerton Lecture series sponsored by the International Institute of Strategic Studies Austin called on more partnership between nations in aim of a free and open Pacific.

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''Integrated deterrence is about using existing capabilities and building new ones and deploying them all in new and networked ways -- all tailored to a region's security landscape, and in growing partnership with our friends,'' Austin said.

China and the United States have been in a standoff in the Indo-Pacific region as China continues to strengthen its grip.

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Diplomats from both countries met Monday in what was considered a "rare event," particularly after he countries have been sparring publicly with sanctions after the United States expressed its concerns over human rights issues in China.

''The Department of Defense will be here to provide the resolve and reassurance that America's diplomats can use to help prevent conflict from breaking out in the first place,'' Austin said in the speech.

''As I've said before, it's always better to stamp out an ember than to try to put out a blaze," Austin said.

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Earlier in the week, China imposed counter sanctions on U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and others including the China director for human Rights Watch and the Hong Kong Democracy Council, based in Washington, D.C.

China has been accused of undermining Hong Kong autonomy as safeguards to allow for the former British electorate to continue a separate government have been systematically removed by Beijing.

"For decades, we have maintained the capabilities, the presence, and the relationships needed to ward off conflict and to preserve the stability that lies at the heart of our shared prosperity," Austin said.

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"Yet, emerging threats and cutting-edge technologies are changing the face and the pace of warfare. So, we are operating under a new, 21st century vision that I call 'integrated deterrence,'" Austin said.

China has been accused of human rights abuses for its treatment of Uighurs -- who are ethnic Muslims -- in the country.

"Together, we're aiming to coordinate better, to network tighter and to innovate faster," Austin said. "And we're working to ensure that our allies and partners have the capabilities, the capacities and the information that they need."

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The United States is also working closely with regional and multilateral organizations, such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and The Quad -- India, Australia, Japan and the United States -- have been working with United Nations Security Council and other aide organizations to offer assistance to those affected by china's polices. '

"We have long sought to create space for Indo-Pacific countries to realize their highest aspirations and safeguard the rights of their citizens,'' Austin said. "And these joint efforts with our friends rely on more than just intersecting interests. They draw strength from common principles."

Austin also re-emphasized the United States' commitment to assisting with the continued COVID-19 pandemic.

"President Biden has committed to deliver more than 500 million shots world-wide over the next year, and the Indo-Pacific is a top priority," Austin said.

"You know, in just the past two months, we have shared more than 30 million doses throughout the region, including Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam," Austin said.

NATO recently stepped up efforts in the areas as well, as it looks to affect situations it says effect members of the multi-national alliance.

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