Southeast Asian leaders this week will head to Washington, D.C. for a summit with US President Joe Biden, seen here nearly participating in the previous ASEAN summit from the White House in Washington, D.C. in October 2021.
Nicholas Cam | Afp | Getty Images
In the midst of the Ukraine war that It is Washington’s first foreign policy priority, Mr. President Joe Biden hosts Southeast Asian leaders In Washington – indicating the commitment of the United States to the region in which it is engaged in a struggle for hegemony with China.
Some critical issues – like the post-Covid economy Revival, climate change and Myanmar’s coup will be on the table in the two-day meeting starting Thursday. There will be leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a bloc of 10 countries that together make up the world’s seventh largest economy.
Ong Keng Yong, the former secretary general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, told CNBC that security issues will likely be on the table at the summit.
“It is inevitable that issues of geopolitics and international security will be raised and discussed, but in this regard, I do not foresee any dramatic steps,” Ong said, adding, “There is a need for the United States to be more present in Southeast Asian countries.”
The White House said the summit would “demonstrate the United States’ enduring commitment to ASEAN…and revive 45 years of US-ASEAN relations.”
The United States has long emphasized “ASEAN centrality” in its strategy in the Indo-Pacific to contain China. This focus provides the region – populated by states unwilling to choose openly between the United States and China – some bargaining power.
Ong, who is also Singapore’s ambassador-at-large, said Asia had offered enough to keep the United States engaged despite its occupation of the war in Ukraine. “Since the end of World War II, it is clear that Europe comes first to the United States before any other region in the world,” he said.
“However, the people of ASEAN believe that America’s resilience and dynamism will find the Asian Pacific side something worth dealing with and securing US prosperity in the future.”
“ASEAN would like to see an economic framework with some concessions and a clearer strategy toward regional security, especially with regard to the South China Sea,” Joshua Kurlanczyk, senior fellow for Southeast Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations, told CNBC.
Biden Indo-Pacific strategy, Released in February, it states that Washington will explore opportunities for the Quartet to work with Southeast Asian nations. But ASEAN would like to see more US support for initiatives led by the bloc.
Quartet, formally known as the Quartet Security Dialogue, Composed of the United States, Australia, Japan and India in a strategic partnership aimed at countering the looming Chinese military presence in the Indo-Pacific.
Separately, made up of Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, Aukus is an Indo-Pacific security alliance that was launched last September.
said Joan Lin, Principal Investigator at the Center for ASEAN Studies at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore.
“The United States support for ASEAN prospects in the Indo-Pacific Lane added, referring to the document adopted in 2019 in which ASEAN clarified its geostrategic concept of the Indo-Pacific region after former President Donald Trump released his vision for a free and comprehensive Indo-Pacific region.
Ong, a former secretary general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, said that people in many parts of Southeast Asia often see US interests as a competition between American liberal democracy and Asian conservatism.
“Certainly, we have different forms of authoritarian rule in different parts of ASEAN. However, there are many areas where mutually beneficial joint initiatives can be implemented to deepen relations on a larger scale,” Ong said.
It is possible to discuss the United States Indo-Pacific Economic Framework announced by Biden at the East Asia Summit last year. This may include new approaches to trade, supply chain security, and clean energy.
According to Lin of ISEAS-Yusof Ishak, “While the United States is still crystallizing the content of the framework, it is unlikely to impress ASEAN.” “Lack of market access and high labor and environment standards may not go well with many ASEAN countries.”
There may be “some progress in the Indo-Pacific economic framework, but we are unlikely to see binding US commitments,” said Kurlanczyk of the Council on Foreign Relations, adding that expectations from the summit would be “fairly low” – given that many Other things are happening in the world. .
Two ASEAN nations will not be represented at the meeting with Biden: outgoing Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Myanmar junta leader Min Aung Hlaing, who seized power from Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government in a February 2021 coup.
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