onsdag 16. juni 2021

Biden’s China policy gets ASEAN cold shoulder

US President Joseph Biden has been relatively successful in corralling Western allies against China, with the recently concluded G7 Summit culminating in a series of global initiatives to counter Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative, vaccine diplomacy and rising maritime assertiveness across the Indo-Pacific. The same, however, cannot be said about Southeast Asia, where Biden’s China policy has so far garnered at best lukewarm support.

During the latest round of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Defense Ministers’ Meeting, virtually hosted by Brunei, regional defense chiefs called for “self-restraint” and the conclusion of a Code of Conduct (COC) among competing claimant states in the South China Sea. But despite China’s rapidly expanding military and paramilitary presence across the disputed waters, the regional body once again demurred from directly mentioning Beijing’s recent aggressive actions that have raised diplomatic hackles in the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia.