The Trump administration has declassified a report outlining its Indo-Pacific strategy, which includes "accelerating India's rise", preventing China from establishing "illiberal spheres of influence" and maintaining the United States' "strategic primacy".
The 10-page document, 'US Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific', has formed a blueprint for the country's approach to the Indo-Pacific region - including its relations with China, India and North Korea - for the past three years.
The strategy, written in early 2018, also revealed that the US would defend Taiwan against an attack from China if violence were to erupt between the estranged entities, who have been engaged in a bitter battle regarding independence and sovereignty for decades.
In a memo dated January 5 marking the release of the report, national security advisor Robert O'Brien said the declassification of the framework demonstrates "transparency".
"The declassification of the Framework today demonstrates, with transparency, America's strategic commitments to the Indo-Pacific and to our allies and partners in the region," O'Brien wrote.
"The United States has a long history of fighting back against repressive regimes on behalf of those who value freedom and openness. As the world's largest economy, with the strongest military and a vibrant democracy, it is incumbent on the United States to lead from the front."
The declassification and public release of the report by the Trump administration - ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden - would have otherwise occurred in 2043 after a maximum of 25 years.
According to US media company Axios, which obtained a copy of the report, the document identifies both China and North Korea respectively as the state actors of concern. It stresses the importance of countering China's increasing overseas influence by pursuing strategic alignment with allies and partners, such as Australia, India and Japan, maintaining a "liberal economic order" in the region. The strategy also outlines the need to "inoculate" the US and its partners against China's intelligence activities.
The report also specifies significantly expanding military, intelligence and diplomatic support to India to counterbalance China's influence in the region.
In regards to Taiwan, the framework includes the implementation of a defence strategy capable of denying China "sustained air and sea dominance inside the 'first island chain' in a conflict", as well as "defending the first-island-chain nations, including Taiwan".
"Objective: Enable Taiwan to develop an effective asymmetric defence strategy and capabilities that will help ensure its security, freedom from coercion, resilience, and ability to engage China on its own terms," it states.
The 'First Island Chain' encompasses the South and East China Seas, including the Kuril Islands, Japan, the Ryukyu Islands, Taiwan, the Philippines, Borneo, Malaysia and Indonesia.
As reported by Axios, Trump's administration has stuck closely to several of its objectives outlined in the strategy in regards to China, including "building an "international consensus that China's industrial policies and unfair trading practices are damaging the global trading system".
Yet some of its aims have faced setbacks, including the repeated call for greater US engagement with countries in the region, particularly the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) - a regional intergovernmental organisation comprising 10 Southeast Asian countries, including Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam. Axios noted that the US has shown resistance to engaging with the region on a number of occasions, including Trump's withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and rebuffing of ASEAN summits.
According to the outlet, Australia's experience with China had significantly influenced the drafting of the Indo-Pacific strategy in 2018. An unnamed senior US official also identified New Zealand-based scholar Anne-Marie Brady's 2017 report on Chinese influence operations as guiding the strategy.