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US Under Secretary anchors for tri-country tour to Indo-Pacific


Washington DC, 22 January 2024 (TDI): The US Under Secretary Jose W. Fernandez will anchor for a tri-country tour to the Indo-Pacific. The trip is scheduled from January 22 – February 1. The Under Secretary will travel to Vietnam, the Philippines, and the Republic of Korea during this time frame for key engagements.

The US Under Secretary Jose W. Fernandez issued a written statement that said, “Excited to travel to Vietnam, the Philippines, and the Republic of Korea. The purpose is to strengthen economic cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region. We will discuss global challenges, from fighting climate change to strengthening our supply chains.”

In a video message by Under Secretary Jose W. Fernandez, he said, “The State Department helps secure and protect a positive future for Americans and the world. Moreover, from building partnerships to ensuring energy security and protecting our oceans.” In addition, he said, “We will be taking this progress into 2024.”

According to the released media note by the US Department of State regarding the US Under Secretary tour to Indo-Pacific countries:


In Vietnam, the Under Secretary will focus on increasing trade opportunities, clean energy promotion semiconductor supply chain cooperation, and advancing economic cooperation. Moreover, this aligns with the following US President Joe Biden’s visit in September of 2023. Consequentially, it will help upgrade the bilateral relationship to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

The Philippines

In the Philippines, the Under Secretary will discuss enhancing the Philippines’ economic resilience through supply chain diversification. Furthermore, it emphasizes the commitment to deepening the strong US-Philippines economic partnership. It also highlights US investment opportunities in the critical mineral sector.

Also Read: United States Indo-Pacific Command courtesy call to Philippines

Republic of Korea 

In the Republic of Korea, Under Secretary Fernandez will co-chair the 8th US-ROK Senior Economic Dialogue. Moreover, the Under Secretary will underscore the strong bilateral trade and investment relationship with the Republic of Korea. In addition, matters of continued cooperation such as minerals, semiconductors, and energy security would be the main focus.

To further state, the US Under Secretary Fernandez will conduct meetings with government, business, and civil society leaders in all three countries.

Furthermore, during the Under Secretary tour to Indo-Pacific states, he will promote public-private partnerships, advance investment opportunities, and bring to notice the importance of close cooperation.

China’s Response 

Reportedly, China sees the cooperation as a specter of a new Cold War playing out in the Indo-Pacific region. Chinese Foreign Minister Spokesperson Mao Ning, in 2023, advised Washington to discard its ‘Hegemonic and Cold War Mentality’. The Chinese statement came in response to the joint comprehensive strategic partnership; US-Vietnam.

Moreover, the Chinese Spokesperson added, “We ask the US to respect regional countries’ shared inspiration for stability, cooperation, and development.” She further said, “Vietnam had stressed on multiple occasions that its relationship with Beijing was a ‘top priority in the foreign affairs of the country’.

However, the US rejects Chinese claims made for its strengthening of the Indo-Pacific region. The US special assistant to the President Mira Rapp-Hopper said, “The US is far from any kind of Cold War move.”

Reportedly, the Philippines is already considered as a Western perspective state and has given its four bases to the US in the Indo-Pacific region.

The Philippine National Defense Minister Carlito Guancing Galvez Jr. said, “The bases were not intended for aggression but for only increasing the state’s ability to defend itself against external threat.” Moreover, he said, “We are not prepared for war, but only trying to develop national defense strategies.”

Recently, on January 16, the Indo-Pacific US Command released on its official website about the US, Japan, and Republic of Korea’s trilateral Maritime Exercise. The three maritime forces sailed together and advanced maritime communication operations.

Hamail Tahir
Hamail Tahir
A student of MPhil in Strategic Studies at National Defence University Islamabad (NDU). She is eager to understand the global changing dynamics and how states use their national interests to acquire regional hegemony. Her focus primarily lies in diplomatic and strategic initiatives during peace and conflict paradigms and can be reached at hamail.tahir@gmail.com

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