President Joe Biden on Tuesday hinted at an in-person visit to the Southeast Asian region as the United States looks to counter the growing Chinese influence in that sphere of the world.
‘I want you all to hear directly from me the importance the United States places on our relationship with ASEAN. You can expect me to be showing up,’ he told the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders in a virtual address from the White House. ‘You can expect me personally showing up and reaching out to you.’
He emphasized the U.S. commitment to the alliance, calling it ‘essential’ to the ‘regional architecture of the Indo-Pacific’ and a ‘lynchpin’ to security in ‘our shared region.’
Biden didn’t mention China by name but stressed the shared ‘security’ the leaders participating in the summit, which China was not a part of, shared.
The meeting came amid Chinese threats to Taiwan and tensions rising between Beijing and Washington as China pushed a record-breaking number of warplanes into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone earlier this month.
‘Our partnership is essential to maintain free and open Indo Pacific, which has been the foundation of our shared security and prosperity for many decades,’ the president said.
President Joe Biden hinted at an in-person visit to the Southeast Asian region in his address to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations
Summit comes as Myanmar’s new military leader was banned from attending virtual meeting – the square for that country was gray
Participants in President Biden’s viritual meeting with ASEAN nations
Dato Lim Jock Hoi, Secretary General of ASEAN
Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Brunei
Prime Minister Hun Sen, Cambodia
President Joko Widodo, Indonesia
Prime Minister Phankham Viphavanh, Laos
Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, Malaysia
President Rodrigo Duterte, Philippines
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Singapore
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, Thailand
Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, Vietnam
Biden’s administration has shown the Asian region is an top priority for the administration. The president met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the White House in May and he met with then-Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide at the White House in April.
Vice President Kamala Harris visited Singapore and Vietnam in August.
As part of the American committment to the region, the United States announced an $100 million committment association with the funds going toward health, climate, economic and education program.
Biden joined nine ASEAN leaders for the virtual ASEAN-U.S. summit from the White House for the first time in four years after his predecessor, Donald Trump, skipped the event three years in a row.
He brought back his fake White House window set on Tuesday for a speech to South East Asian leaders. Biden sat before a window that showed an artistic view of the White House Rose Garden.
Biden sat facing a large screen where leaders were piped in.
Myanmar’s square was grey since the country’s military leader Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing was banned from attending the summit after he seized power in February and dashed hoped for a democratic transition in that country.
Trump attended an ASEAN-U.S. meeting in Manila in 2017 as U.S.-Chinese relations reached a low point in his presidency as he slapped tariffs on Beijing and started a trade war.
Biden is also ramping up U.S. presence in SouthEast Asia.
He recently announced the AUKUS deal, where Australia is buying U.S. nuclear subs. The deal infuriated the French after Paris was blindsided by the Australians pulling out of a $60 billion submarine contract with France, to join the American and British in a military pact dubbed AUKUS instead.
The White House brought back the fake set for Biden’s virtual meeting with the window showing an artistic rendering of Rose Garden
The White House is working to set up a virtual summit between Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping later this year.
His meeting with South East Asian leaders also comes ahead of his trip to Europe this week. Biden leaves Thursday for the G20 in Rome and then he heads for Scotland for the annual UN climate conference known as COP26.