U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will become the first member of President Joe Biden’s cabinet to visit Southeast Asia this week, says Reuters.
It is part of efforts by the US to regain support from Southeast Asia nations. The question to ask is whether it is too late for the US to attempt any push back against China in the region?
Countering China is said to be at the heart of the American national security policy under President Joe Biden.
Nevertheless, it is interesting to see what Austin will achieve in the region and with the Asean.
Asean is divided between China’s economic aid to member states and America’s military needs to counter China’s rise in the region.
No one knows where the Asean will lean. The member countries are also divided on how to tackle China in South China Sea.
“You’ll hear me talk a lot about partnerships and the value of partnerships,” Austin told reporters.
“My goal is to strengthen relationships,” he says.
Reuters say he will talk on the aggressive Chinese behaviour in the SCS. He will also stress on keeping the SCS free.
However, there is no sign of what the Americans plan or can do to counter China.
What we know is the Americans are focusing on two aspects in their policies in Asia.
One is the focus on the Indo-Pacific region and two is to beef-up the role of the Quadrilateral grouping. The Quad is made of the USA, India, Japan. and Australia.
In this strategy, Asean will have to follow the US and the Quad nations if they want to get rid of the Chinese problem.
However, it is not in the US to prove that it is capable to rope in the Asean in its strategy.
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