Phnom Penh, November 12 (EFE). — US President Joe Biden on Saturday celebrated the expansion of ties with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to include a comprehensive strategic association, promising more aid to the bloc, amid growing Chinese influence in the region.
Biden said he is seeking to provide $850 million in aid to Southeast Asia at a bilateral meeting with ASEAN members in Phnom Penh on the sidelines of the bloc’s annual summit and its external partners.
Stressing the bloc’s importance to balance the region, the US president said, “ASEAN is at the heart of my government’s Indo-Pacific strategy, and we continue to strengthen our commitment.”
Biden noted that the comprehensive strategic partnership brings his country closer to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to jointly address challenges related to climate, food security and security threats, as well as for the “free, open and prosperous” Indo-Pacific region.
The president listed the various sectors his country is working in with the region, including electric vehicle research, green energy, increased connectivity and sustainable development.
Biden, looking tired after arriving from the climate summit in Egypt today, confused himself by talking about the “Colombian leadership” rather than the “Cambodian.”
After the Phnom Penh summit, which ends tomorrow, Biden will head to Bali (Indonesia) to participate in the G20 summit.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen thanked the United States for its support of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and highlighted the importance of its relations for more than four decades.
Hun Sen said the meeting would help a “good exchange of ideas” in a spirit of solidarity on issues related to climate, food security and other issues.
After years of diplomatic estrangement from ASEAN by President Donald Trump, Biden has vowed to deepen his ties with ASEAN, where he feuds for influence with China.
However, the United States has created its own forum of influence in the region with the Quadruple Alliance that also includes Australia, India and Japan.
The rivalry between China and the United States in ASEAN also takes place on the economic level, with Beijing, which also enjoys the status of a comprehensive strategic link with the bloc, increasing its influence every year.
In 2021, the trade balance between ASEAN and China amounted to 668.9 billion dollars, compared to 364.4 billion dollars with the United States, while Beijing’s investments in the region amounted to 13.5 billion dollars, compared to 40 billion dollars for Washington.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, established in 1967, consists of Burma (Myanmar), Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand. EFE
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