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US set to boost civil society and media in Asia Pacific to counter China’s influence

The United States’ foreign aid agency has flagged that it will pump more resources into civil society and free media throughout Asia and the Pacific as it intensifies efforts to push back against China’s influence across the globe.

USAID senior adviser on China Anka Lee is in Canberra for talks with Australian officials as the agency develops a new strategy to compete with Beijing.

The Chinese government has ploughed enormous resources into infrastructure and major commercial projects in several parts of the world, including South-East and South Asia.

While the Biden administration has vowed to meet that challenge and reassert American influence, it has also opted out of several key trade agreements in the region, which could see its economic influence in Asia rapidly erode.

But Mr Lee said aid and development was another crucial arena for strategic competition, and the decisions made by donors like the US and Australia could still shape the region in significant ways.

He said the US and Australia needed to “step up” their development efforts in Asia and the Pacific, which he labeled “ground zero” in the contest with China.

“The United States needs to be more present in the region, and we want to work with our Australian allies and friends here to make sure that we are really offering what is beneficial to our partners here,” he said.


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