Top Asian US diplomats visit four ASEAN countries


Washington — Top US diplomats in East Asia have promised to strengthen their ties with Southeast Asia, a key battlefield in the battle for influence with China, after President Joe Biden has promised Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore from the weekend. , Visit Thailand.

According to a State Department statement, East Asia’s Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Kritenbrink will be in the region from Saturday to December 4.

Kritenbrink said it would “reaffirm US commitment to work together … to tackle the most serious global and regional challenges” and emphasize US support for “rule-based order in the Indo-Pacific.” Actions in areas that Washington has repeatedly accused of being “forced.”

Krittenblink discusses human rights “challenges”, strengthens climate change cooperation, and pressures Burma’s (also known as Myanmar) junta to end violence and allow unimpeded humanitarian access. Discuss about.

He also said he would discuss ways to strengthen economic relations and “build better” from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Biden joined the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders at the Virtual Summit last month. For the first time in four years, Washington was involved in the block at the top level.

He promised to work with ASEAN to defend freedom of the seas and democracy, and said Washington would begin discussions on the development of a regional economic framework.

Asian diplomats acknowledged that Biden’s focus on rebuilding domestic economic power was a limiting factor, and said regional nations were still waiting for details of the plan.

Daniel Russell, the predecessor of the Obama administration’s Kritenblink, said the key question for ASEAN was “whether the United States really has a viable economic strategy for the region.”

“The pledge to discuss ways to strengthen US economic involvement with ASEAN countries is music in their ears, even if they are overwhelmed by the” economic framework “so far,” he said. Said.

Although Krittenblink’s travel announcement emphasized the “centrality” of the 10 member states to ASEAN’s regional affairs, he does not visit Cambodia, the new chairman of Brock, who is closer to the Chinese government than ever before.

Asian diplomats and Russell said Kritenbrink was likely to visit other ASEAN countries in due course, and Russell said Indonesia’s capital Jakarta was home to the permanent headquarters of the block.

“It is important to discuss the ASEAN agenda with the 2022 Chair, but a visit to Jakarta’s ASEAN headquarters gives him the opportunity to begin the conversation,” Russell said.