02 November 2019
The absence of a top level US official at a regional forum in Thailand this weekend should not be seen as an easing of the strategic rivalry between Washington and Beijing, observers say.
The two-day East Asia Summit gets under way with preliminary meetings in Bangkok on Sunday, with the main event being held the following day in Nonthaburi, a city about 20km (12 miles) to the north.
While Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi are all expected to be there, the American delegation will be headed by the newly appointed national security adviser Robert O’Brien and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
The presence of the relatively lower ranking US officials could be interpreted as a sign that US President Donald Trump’s attention on the region was waning, said Xu Liping, a professor at the Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
… Collin Koh, a research fellow at Singapore’s Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, said that while the South China Sea issue would be discussed at the summit, there were unlikely to be any serious clashes.
“The likelihood of an acrimonious exchange on the issue is low,” he said.
IDSS / Online
Last updated on 04/11/2019