US State Department delegation Southeast Asia trip to conclude

Delegates of the US State Department will conclude their trip to Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia today. The trip intended to

Beawiharta Beawiharta Reuters

Photo: Beawiharta/Reuters

Delegates of the US State Department will conclude their trip to Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia today.

The trip intended to expand cooperation with integral allies and partners in Southeast Asia, reinforce the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) cohesion and the address threats to regional stability, including the ongoing crisis in Burma.

The US delegation discussed various opportunities to deepen engagement, including efforts to tackle the COVID-19 economic recovery, threats posed by climate change and tactics to combat Chinese militarization of the region.

In the short- to medium-term, expect similar trips—such as that recently undertaken by Vice President Kamala Harris—to become common place as the US works to strengthen and expand its ties in Southeast Asia to combat Chinese influence and expansion.

In the long-term, expect the US to fall short of their expectations regarding cooperation with ASEAN. The alliance has shown it is not interested in abandoning its non-interference principle, even to combat major regional destabilizations like China’s expansion into the Philippines or the military coup in Burma. As such, expect the US-China competition to pivot in the long-term towards garnering support from individual ASEAN allies while the bloc itself remains dormant.

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