08 May 2017
Over a lunch meeting in Washington on May 4, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and ASEAN foreign ministers discussed a range of issues including economics and trade, North Korea as well as the South China Sea dispute. Significantly, Tillerson stressed the importance of Southeast Asia as a strategic partner to the US and reaffirmed US engagement with the region.
While these are initial encouraging signs to ASEAN countries who have been concerned over Trump’s “America First” policy, it is also important to note that US presence at ASEAN-led meetings might not necessarily mean a concurrence of their respective interests.
Moreover, it also raises the broader question of the kind of regional order that the US envisions should be in place in East Asia, and how the US vision fits with the objectives of other regional stakeholders.
… Bhubhindar Singh is Associate Professor and Coordinator of the Regional Security Architecture Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. Sarah Teo is an Associate Research Fellow with the same programme.
IDSS / Online / Print
Last updated on 09/05/2017