Photo: Lim Huey Teng/Reuters
The United States and ASEAN have entered into a new era of relationship, President Joe Biden said today during the US-ASEAN summit with the leaders from this ten-country faction.
The meeting was held to discuss regional security issues as well economic cooperation opportunities, among other topics that will hopefully lead toward greater stability in Asia.
In a speech, Biden addressed the ASEAN leaders, “a great deal of the history of our world in the next 50 years is going to be written in the ASEAN countries, and our relationship with you is the future, in the coming years and decades.”
The 2-day summit has already started Thursday and will end Friday, May 13.
The United States has invited ASEAN leaders for the first time since 2016, hoping that this gathering will help them focus on issues faced by their countries, most especially in protecting resources in the Indo-Pacific region.
U.S Vice President Kamala Harris announced that the United States would be establishing an extended presence in Southeast Asia, warning against forces who want to establish dominion and violate territorial rights under international laws.
The United States will ‘stand’ with its allies and offer help.
Biden also announced that they would be donating $150 million to help infrastructure development, security, and COVID response. However, this offer pales compared with China’s recent development assistance of over 1 billion dollars for neighboring Asian nations’ economic growth and COVID-19 fighting capabilities.
Most of the ASEAN leaders came in attendance — Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Laos, Thailand, Singapore, and Vietnam. The Philippine President could not attend because of the national elections in his country — in his place is the PH foreign minister. Meanwhile, Myanmar’s leader was excluded after a coup last year.
Biden announced a plan to counter China’s ongoing operations in the South China Sea by deploying Coast Guard vessels. This plan comes along with other agendas, including infrastructure projects, initially named “Build Back Better World” and the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF).
However, several leaders expressed concern about the possible negative impact it might cause if the US exerted influence over disputes in the region.
Moreover, China has strong economic relations with many Asian nations. Addressing this issue, Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said that the US needs to put forth more “active” trade and investment programs with ASEAN nations.
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