May 31, 2018

Asean is the fulcrum of a free and open Indo-Pacific

By Patrick M. Cronin and Abigail Grace

More than half a year has elapsed since President Donald Trump's inaugural Asian tour, during which he announced a US vision of a "free and open Indo-Pacific". The bare bones of that regional concept were previewed in the President's remarks at Apec last November, in December's National Security Strategy, and other official pronouncements. Despite this, the region remains understandably hungry for more details and concrete action symbolising the administration's rhetorical commitment to this vision.

Events are partly to blame for America's sluggish rollout of its latest regional vision. We can thank Mr Kim Jong Un for several months of frantic search for a breakthrough with North Korea that still may emerge at a Singapore summit. The shuffling of top personnel at the White House and the State Department created a temporary hiccup, but may well catalyse more policy action in the long term.

Fortunately, the administration's inner circle on Asia policy have not been idle. The fruits of their effort will be apparent in the coming months of this year, stretching from the Shangri-La Dialogue through the Asean Regional Forum gathering of foreign ministers, to the East Asia Summit.

Read the Full Article at The Straits Times

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