Photo: Lim Huey Teng/Reuters
The United States has announced that a new era in relations between them and the ASEAN is now underway. The summit was held with President Joe Biden, who said he hoped the summit would lead to even stronger partnerships among all parties involved.
The 2-day US-ASEAN summit started on Thursday, May 12th, and mainly focused on Asia Pacific region issues.
The meeting has been attended by several leaders and key personnel from both sides as they discuss increasing tensions throughout this area which will most likely be home to some significant events over the coming decades. The talks tackled majorly in China’s involvement with territorial disputes.
The summit seeks an opportunity to discuss issues that weigh heavily on the minds of people in ASEAN countries. The US administration hopes this gathering will allow them to focus on what’s happening within each country’s long-standing interests: protecting resources, defending their sovereignty, and barring China from securing dominion over vast territories in the South China Sea.
US Vice President Kamala Harris spoke to ASEAN leaders earlier about their goals for freedom of the seas and stability. She said that the US government is prepared to work alongside ASEAN to uphold international rules and thwart forces that intend to violate rules and treaties among nations.
Harris further asks ASEAN for an extended and increased presence of the US in the region.
The United States promises to “stand” with its allies and continue its COVID response, having already delivered more than 115 million vaccines to the region.
Biden’s administration is committed to strengthening the relationship among countries and will donate $150 million to help with security, infrastructure, and pandemic preparedness.
The offer pales, however, compared to recent development assistance from China which gave out $1 billion so that neighboring countries could boost economies and fight COVID-19.
Most ASEAN leaders attended the summit, except Myanmar’s leader, who was exempted from the summit after a coup last year and the Philippine President, who earlier said that he’d skip the meeting because of a government transition after his country’s May 2022 polls.
The United States plans to deploy Coast Guard vessels to counter China’s illegal fishing activities. ASEAN leaders were quick to applaud this move, but some expressed concern regarding ramifications should America exert its influence over these disputes in the region.
The US laid out the “Build Back Better World” and the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF).
Malaysia’s Prime Minister has called on the US to create more active trade and investment programs with ASEAN countries. He believes that China will take advantage of America’s softer stance as most Asian nations have already established strong economic ties with China.