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U.S. President Donald J. Trump signed into law the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act (ARIA), which passed the U.S. Senate earlier that month.

The act “establishes a multifaceted U.S. strategy to increase U.S. security, economic interests, and values in the Indo-Pacific region,” according to the White House.

Specifically, the ARIA will authorize $1.5 billion in spending for a range of U.S. programs in East and Southeast Asia.

ARIA draws attention to U.S. relations with China, India, the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and Northeast Asian allies Japan and South Korea.

The ARIA devotes considerable energy to reasserting U.S. support for Taiwan and calls on the president of the United States to “encourage the travel of high level United States officials to Taiwan, in accordance with the Taiwan Travel Act,” which was made law in 2018.

Elsewhere, ARIA devotes attention to the maritime commons in the Asia and the South China Sea, where it calls on the United States to support the ASEAN nations as they adopt a code of conduct in the South China Sea with China.

The law calls for the president to “develop a diplomatic strategy that includes working with United States allies and partners to conduct joint maritime training and freedom of navigation operations in the Indo-Pacific region, including the East China Sea and the South China Sea, in support of a rules-based international system benefiting all countries.”

The Act notes “the increased presence throughout Southeast Asia of the Islamic State and other international terrorist organizations that threaten the United States”.

The law states that US “recognizes the vital role of the strategic partnership between the United States and India in promoting peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region” and “calls for strengthening and broadening of diplomatic, economic, and security ties between the United States and India”.

It reiterates US commitment to all “bilateral and security agreements and arrangements” between the two countries, including the New Framework for the United States-India Defense Relationship, and the United States-India Defense Technology and Trade Initiative.

Stressing the “designation of India as a major defense partner, which is unique to India,” the new law states that this designation “elevates defense trade and technology cooperation between the United States and India to a level commensurate with the closest allies and partners of the United States”.


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