U.S. supports ‘dynamic and growing’ Indo-Pacific partners

Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman speaking while seated with flags in background (State Dept./Freddie Everett)
Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman participates in a virtual event hosted by the University of Southern California's Center on Public Diplomacy in Washington September 2. (State Dept./Freddie Everett)

The United States is working with Indo-Pacific partners to tackle pressing global challenges, from the COVID-19 pandemic to the climate crisis.

Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, in September 2 remarks to the Center on Public Diplomacy at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, said the United States is committed to its long-standing partnerships with the “dynamic and growing” nations of the Indo-Pacific region.

“People sometimes forget that the United States is a Pacific nation,” she said. “We’re a Pacific power not just because of our geography on the Pacific Ocean but because of our economy, our culture, our history and our deep network of alliances and partnerships across Asia and the Pacific.”

In response to modern challenges, the United States and Indo-Pacific partners are working to:

  • Build more resilient supply chains.
  • Improve global health security.
  • Create jobs and opportunity.
  • Tackle the climate crisis.

Sherman credited multilateral institutions, such as the United Nations and the World Bank, with ushering in greater stability following the world wars, global depression and the 1918 flu pandemic, and said international cooperation remains vital to peace and stability.

Sherman also defended the rules-based international order as vital to a secure and prosperous future.

“Having one set of transparent, consistent agreed-upon rules to govern international relations and trade and commerce on the internet and on the battlefield — that’s the very definition of a level playing field,” she said.

In recent months, Sherman traveled widely in the Indo-Pacific. She recently met with officials from countries including Thailand, Indonesia, Mongolia, Japan and the Republic of Korea to address shared priorities, including the climate crisis, pandemic relief and post-COVID-19 economic recovery.

In a September 2 meeting, Sherman and India’s Foreign Secretary Harsh V. Shringla discussed increased cooperation through the Quad partnership. The group, which also includes Australia and Japan, is committed to defending democracy and advancing prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.

To increase vaccinations across the Indo-Pacific, Quad nations are working to finance, manufacture and distribute at least 1 billion doses of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines by the end of 2022.

Sherman also called out the People’s Republic of China for coercion of other nations and human rights violations that violate the rules-based international order. She said the U.S. government will continue to challenge PRC behavior that runs counter to the shared values of the United States and its allies.

Sherman added that the United States will seek cooperation with the PRC where possible, on issues such as the climate crisis and global health security. She acknowledged that other nations may be seeking partnerships with both the United States and the PRC.

“We’re not asking countries to choose between the United States and China,” Sherman said.

She also told the audience of university students that a nation’s young people often see best the challenges a country must face and how to address them.

“The issues that so many of you are passionate about, from climate change to public health to racial and gender equity to human rights, are increasingly at the forefront of our diplomacy,” Sherman said. “And I expect they will stay there for many years to come.”