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Photo: Carlos Tischler/Getty Images

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will lay down an important marker for China in a speech on Monday at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Indo-Pacific Business Forum. Pompeo won't say this explicitly, but he'll subtly tell China's neighbors they don't have to choose Chinese investment over American investment.

The big picture: Axios has been briefed on the speech from a source with direct knowledge of its latest contents, as of early Sunday evening. Pompeo is expected to frame the speech as a discussion of the Trump administration’s "economic strategy for advancing a free and open Indo-Pacific."

The key line: "I am here to say emphatically that the Trump administration is expanding our economic engagement in the Indo-Pacific." (The Trump officials are expected to announce new initiatives to promote U.S. private sector investments in Asia, especially in energy, infrastructure and the digital economy, the source told me.)

  • Expect Pompeo to say that "America will be there and American businesses will be there. The American people and the whole world have a stake in Indo-Pacific peace and prosperity. That is why the Indo-Pacific must be free and open."

Between the lines: Pompeo has a tough job selling the Trump administration's economic engagement in Asia. One of Trump's first acts as president was withdrawing the U.S. from the region's biggest trade deal — the Trans-Pacific Partnership. 

  • Many smaller Asian nations worry about an American retreat from the region and have begun to see an emboldened China fill the vacuum. 
  • A similar dynamic is occurring in Europe. But most countries around the world would still, if given the choice, far prefer to deal with America over China.

China has been operating like a pay-day lender as it aggressively expands and lays down major investments around the world. 

  • Pompeo's speech will highlight the U.S. business advantages of reliability and transparency: "Thanks to [our] history of economic and commercial engagement, America’s relationships throughout the Indo-Pacific today are characterized by mutual trust and respect. American friendship is welcomed, and American businesses are recognized for their ingenuity, reliability, and honesty."

Behind the scenes: About a half-dozen Cabinet secretaries and agency heads, including Wilbur Ross and Rick Perry, will lay out the administration’s economic and commercial strategy for the Indo-Pacific, the source said.  

Go deeper

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Fauci: Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in U.S.

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, cautioned on Sunday that the COVID-19 Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in the United States.

Driving the news: Fauci, Biden's chief medical adviser, told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" that U.S. officials will meet with colleagues from South Africa later on Sunday to try to determine the severity of the cases, as countries scramble to learn more about the variant.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Dems fear supply-chain blame

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As supply-chain kinks drive up prices and disrupt holiday shopping, Democrats are scrambling to show action and deflect blame.

Why it matters: With their party controlling both the White House and Capitol, vulnerable Democrats worry supply-chain snafus will hurt them in next year's midterms.

6 hours ago - World

Scoop: Germany urges Congress not to sanction Putin’s pipeline

Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

The German government has urged members of Congress not to sanction the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, arguing that doing so will "weaken" U.S. credibility and "ultimately damage transatlantic unity," according to documents obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: At a time when roughly 100,000 Russian troops are massing at its border, Ukraine views Nord Stream 2 as an existential threat to its security. The pipeline would circumvent Ukrainian transit infrastructure and deliver Russian gas directly to Germany, eliminating one of the last deterrents Ukraine has against an invasion.