mandag 30. august 2021

Harris shines light on US plans in China’s backyard

US Vice President Kamala Harris’ visit to Southeast Asia couldn’t have come at a more critical moment. The Biden administration’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan rekindled long-simmering anxieties over Washington’s wherewithal and overall commitment to regional allies, especially as a resurgent China carves out new spheres of influence across the Indo-Pacific.

As Harris acknowledged, much is at stake in a region which will “in large part … dictate the future of our world.” The vice president’s choice of destinations among the ten members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) also brought into sharp relief the Biden administration’s emerging Indo-Pacific strategy.

Singapore and Vietnam hosted the second American cabinet-level official in less than a month, having hosted US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin just weeks earlier. This reflects Washington’s growing reliance on perceived as likeminded and reliable regimes rather than unwieldy allies such as Thailand or non-aligned democratic powers such as Indonesia.