The Biden administration has announced it will invest $150mn in south-east Asian countries in an effort to boost economic engagement in the region as part of its strategy to counter China.
The White House announced a range of initiatives in areas such as climate change, infrastructure and maritime security as US president Joe Biden prepared to hold a meeting with the leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, in the organisation’s first summit in Washington in its 55-year history.
Lisa Curtis, an Indo-Pacific expert at the Center for a New American Security, said the administration was trying to reassure countries in south-east Asia that it was committed to the region, particularly given concerns from some countries that Washington was focusing too much on the Quad at the expense of other relationships in Asia.
“That Biden administration wants to demonstrate that it sees ASEAN as extremely important in terms of its Indo-Pacific policy . . . and wants to bolster the organisation and elevate its role and prove that it is important despite the progress that has been made on the Quad,” said Curtis.
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