Two-day talks between the US and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are expected to conclude today.
The US’s relationship with the ten-nation bloc has deteriorated in recent years as former president Donald Trump repeatedly neglected bilateral meetings. Increasing engagement with ASEAN will be a top priority for the Biden administration as it seeks to accomplish the president’s goal of re-engaging traditional allies and fortifying the US’s position against China in the region. President Joe Biden recently created a new position within the National Security Council that cements the region’s importance within the policymaking process.
Security in the South China Sea will likely be a top concern shared by the bloc and Washington. China’s illegitimate claims in the area infringe on the maritime rights of multiple ASEAN nations and have resulted in numerous clashes in recent years. The Biden administration will seek to reduce China’s influence in the region by increasing maritime military support and presenting the US as the preferred economic partner, likely by bolstering the ASEAN-US Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement. Expect numbers of international visits by high-level US officials and freedom of navigation operations conducted by the US Navy to increase in the short- to medium-term.
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Julian is a Research Analyst for The Daily Brief where he is a regular contributor. As a researcher and writer, Julian specializes in the political economy of East Asia and global macroeconomic developments.