In his keynote speech at a business forum ahead of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Papua New Guinea's capital of Port Moresby on Saturday, US Vice-President Mike Pence is expected to announce "the clearest outline" of Washington's plans to tackle China's hefty Belt and Road Initiative, according to the South China Morning Post (SCMP).
The SCMP quoted an unnamed US official as saying that Pence's speech will promote a "private-sector driven model" and outline how "US companies really provide jobs and come to the region and deliver prosperity to the region".
"That will stand in sharp contrast to the dangerous debt diplomacy that China has been engaging in in the region, that has led some countries, from Sri Lanka to Maldives, Malaysia, to have some serious debt problems from accepting loans that are not transparent," the official added.
He made the statement as the US, Australia, India and Japan reportedly negotiated the implementation of a joint regional infrastructure project that would serve as an alternative to China's Belt and Road Initiative in a bid to counter Beijing's increasing influence.
The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, in turn, reportedly released a new report accusing Beijing of using its Belt and Road Initiative development strategy as an excuse to establish military bases in other countries.
The Initiative underscores China's push for boosting economic growth across Asia and beyond. In May 2017, Xi invited world leaders to Beijing for an inaugural summit at which he promised to allocate $124 billion for the project, and enshrine it in the Communist Party’s constitution.
The SCMP, in turn, pointed out that the project's goal is "to enhance infrastructure links between Asia's biggest economy and the Eurasian land mass through new bridges, ports, railways and motorways largely financed and constructed by Chinese state-linked firms."
Historically, China's Silk Road was an ancient network of trade routes that for centuries were indispensable to cultural interaction across Eurasia, connecting East and West.