US attempts to woo ASEAN leaders at summit seen as a sign of strategic stake

US attempts to woo ASEAN leaders at summit seen as a sign of strategic stake

President Joe Biden center and the leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian nations ASEAN pose for a group photo on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC on May 12, 2022. NICHOLAS KAMM AFP KUALA LUMPUR - US President Joe Biden is meeting with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations ASEAN at a summit in Washington this week, in a move widely seen as an attempt by the United States to pull members of the bloc into its camp.

Analysts believe that US attempts to court ASEAN leaders in pursuit of its geopolitical interests are unlikely to gain traction.

ASEAN leaders are more likely to emphasize their economic interests, according to analysts, who said the bloc members, who are seeking a post-pandemic economic recovery, will put ASEAN centrality at the forefront while deflecting any attempt to draw them into a US sphere of influence.

The summit commemorates 45 years of US-ASEAN relations. It was originally scheduled for late March but was postponed due to scheduling issues.

A senior research fellow at the Nusantara Academy for Strategic Research said Wednesday that the United States was unable to exert pressure on ASEAN over Russia-Ukraine conflict, with most of the 10 member bloc abstaining from voting in favor of a resolution to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council last month.

I think President Biden must be wondering why the ASEAN nation did not condemn Russia and did not support it wholeheartedly. During the resolution to remove Russia from the UNHRC on April 7, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia and Brunei abstained, while Vietnam and Laos voted against it, Hassan told Xinhua in a phone interview.

He said that the United States will not be able to make any progress among ASEAN members, especially after Malaysia and Indonesia voiced concerns over the AUKUS trilateral security partnership between Australia and Britain.

The economic side of the trade between the ASEAN and the US post-pandemic is the most important issue that will be discussed among the participants, despite the ideas of geopolitical maneuvering. He said that's the most important subject matter from the ASEAN point of view.

READ MORE: Cambodia will host a meeting on humanitarian aid to Myanmar.

The political expert at the International Islamic University Malaysia, Lee Pei May, said that while the summit is taking place against the backdrop of escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine, the primary concern of the Biden administration is not about Russia, but rather about ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific.

For the Biden administration to advance this vision, they have to get ASEAN countries on the American side and possibly the US to play a role in managing the disputes in the South China Sea. She said that such moves could challenge China's position in the region and hinder peaceful progress between China and ASEAN countries.

The summit is ideal for the Biden administration to emphasize the common interests and shared values between the US and the ASEAN countries, as well as the common interests and shared values between the US and the ASEAN countries. She said that the US is expected to leverage these ideas to draw closer to ASEAN.

Lee cautioned that the ASEAN bloc may find itself in a position where different members pursue different paths, which could compromise its cohesiveness, unless it can demonstrate unity. This can be remedied by member states forging a consensus when dealing with the United States.

It is not easy to get a consensus on key issues, but it is crucial because it will allow the members to speak with a united voice at the summit, Lee said. The members can send a signal to the US that the ASEAN would remain neutral in whatever circumstances.