U.S. hails ‘new era’ with ASEAN as summit commits to raise level of ties

U.S. hails ‘new era’ with ASEAN as summit commits to raise level of ties


The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) concluded its summit in Washington, D.C., with a 28-point vision statement from leaders of the 10-nation bloc outlining their commitment to a comprehensive strategic partnership.

On Ukraine, the members reaffirmed “respect for sovereignty, political independence, and territorial integrity,” wording that a regional expert said went farther than past ASEAN statements. The statement, however, stopped short of condemning Russia by name for its invasion.

The two-day summit in May 2022 marked the first time ASEAN leaders gathered as a group in the U.S. capital city and their first meeting hosted by a United States president since 2016. (Pictured: U.S. President Joe Biden with leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations at the White House in Washington, D.C.)

The move from a strategic partnership to a comprehensive strategic partnership is scheduled to take place in November.

President Biden’s administration hopes the effort will show that the U.S. remains focused on the Indo-Pacific and the long-term challenge of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

President Biden told the ASEAN leaders that “a great deal of history of our world in the next 50 years is going to be written in the ASEAN countries, and our relationship with you is the future, in the coming years and decades.”

He called the U.S.-ASEAN partnership critical and said: “We’re launching a new era — a new era — in U.S.-ASEAN relations.”

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris said the United States would remain in Southeast Asia for generations. She stressed the need to maintain freedom of the seas.

“The United States and ASEAN have shared a vision for this region, and together we will guard against threats to international rules and norms,” Harris said.

Harris said Washington and ASEAN would continue addressing the threat of COVID-19. She said ASEAN and the U.S. need to work together on climate change, accelerate the transition to clean energy, and meet infrastructure needs sustainably.

ASEAN members Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam attended the summit. Myanmar’s leader Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, who prevailed in a coup last year, was not invited. An empty chair for Myanmar reflected the summit’s dissatisfaction with the military coup and violence in the country, according to a Voice of America report. The Philippines, in transition after an election, was represented by its foreign minister.

President Biden promised U.S. $150 million for areas including infrastructure, security, pandemic preparedness and clean energy.