US to host ASEAN leaders in May to counter China's growing clout

Kyodo News

Posted at Apr 18 2022 09:58 PM

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WASHINGTON—The United States will host a two-day special summit meeting with Southeast Asian nations from May 12, the White House said Saturday, as the administration of President Joe Biden seeks to step up engagement with a region seen as key to countering China's increasing clout.

The U.S.-ASEAN Special Summit was initially planned for late March but postponed, with Cambodia, the current chair of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, reportedly citing scheduling conflicts.

The administration views it as a top priority for Washington to serve as a "strong, reliable partner in Southeast Asia" and the summit will demonstrate the United States' "enduring commitment to ASEAN, recognizing its central role in delivering sustainable solutions to the region's most pressing challenges," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.

The event will commemorate 45 years of U.S.-ASEAN relations, she also said.

ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

As Biden's administration grapples with the challenge of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, it has signaled it will continue its efforts to push back against China, another country it fears is attempting to undermine the sovereignty of its neighbors and change the status quo by force.

China is the largest trade partner for ASEAN, but its assertive behavior including its expansive territorial claims in the South China Sea, a key waterway for global trade, has strained relations with some members of the bloc.

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