After U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris stepped on U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, analysts said that senior U.S. officials visit Southeast Asian countries “extraordinarily frequently,” exposing Washington’s command to the region. The country’s anxiety and confidence in confronting China has declined. And Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin will visit Southeast Asia.
Analysts warned that these high-profile visits may not fail Washington’s expectations, because its “word of mouth” diplomatic strategy will try to trap regional countries into the US “us or them” trap.
Blinken will participate in virtual meetings for five consecutive days starting from Monday, including the long-term annual meetings of 10 foreign countries including ASEAN and separate meetings in the lower Mekong subregions of Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand. The US State Department announced on Saturday.
“The Secretary of State will reaffirm the United States’ commitment to the centrality of ASEAN and work with ASEAN and international partners to fight the COVID19 pandemic and support economic recovery,” the department said.
In recent years, according to Reuters, senior US officials have not always attended ASEAN meetings and sometimes sent more junior officials to summits in the region. After Austin concluded his visit to Singapore, Vietnam and the Philippines last week and Vice President Kamala Harris visited Singapore and Vietnam at the end of August,
Blinken attended these virtual meetings.
Analysts said that the large number of interactions between US officials and Southeast Asian countries was “unusually frequent.”
shows that the United States attaches great importance to ASEAN countries where China’s influence in the region is expanding, especially after China-ASEAN trade hit a record high during the COVID19 pandemic. Xu Liping, director of the Southeast Asian Studies Center of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that the continuous deepening of cooperation in the field of vaccines highlights the importance of relations with China and ASEAN.
He pointed out that the recent visits by foreign ministers of major ASEAN countries to China to strengthen face-to-face exchanges with Chinese officials have put tremendous pressure on the United States, which has prompted the Biden administration to strengthen its commitment to the region.
In June this year, at a special meeting of China-ASEAN foreign ministers celebrating the 30th anniversary of the dialogue relationship held in Chongqing, Southwest China, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi stated that China and ASEAN should work together for the next 30 years to establish a higher-level strategy. Partnership to build a closer community with a shared future.
Lu Xiang, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, pointed out that the frequent interaction between senior US officials and Southeast Asian countries is reflected in their anxiety and declining confidence in organizing these countries against China.
Lu said: “Bilateral warmth is not strengthened by mutual visits, but mutual benefit.” He pointed out that many Southeast Asian countries have seen through the “word of mouth” diplomacy of the United States. Therefore, when high-level officials visit, the sooner they realize that their reputation is shrinking.
ASEAN has become the largest trade area with China in 2020, with trade volume reaching 4.74 trillion yuan (731.9 billion US dollars). Countries in the region actively participate in and benefit from China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative. In addition, China has provided timely COVID19 vaccine supplies to these countries.
In contrast, even though Biden called Asia the key to his foreign policy agenda, his senior government officials waited several months to visit the region after meeting face-to-face with officials from Japan, India, and South Korea.
Lu pointed out that it is worth noting that although the US CNBC and other media predicted that the criticism of China on the South China Sea issue surpassed Austin, Austin did not publish on Twitter after the Secretary of Defense ended his visit to three countries in Southeast Asia. Any negative comments. Agenda.
This clearly shows that countries in the region are unwilling to choose between the two countries. No matter how many times senior US officials visit these countries, this position will not change, experts say.
Xu said that Austin’s recent visit was aimed at getting US allies in the Asia-Pacific region to ally with China, because the Philippines is a traditional ally of the United States. U.S. officials hope to further coordinate with countries such as Singapore and Vietnam that are also on Harris’s itinerary.
US officials hope to strengthen security cooperation with these two countries, promote Vietnam to play a greater role as a disruptor in the South China Sea issue, and make Singapore a geopolitical balance planner. Xu said that the intention is clear. The visit will be symbolic, so it is unlikely to produce too many specific results. One of the issues of greatest concern to ASEAN countries is how to successfully defeat the epidemic. For example, to what extent the Biden government can help curb the spread of the virus by providing effective assistance, such as providing vaccines.
So far, the scale of aid is limited because the United States always has to prioritize its own interests. Xu said that the Biden government will not unreservedly provide security commitments to Vietnam, because despite the South China Sea issue to be discussed, there is still a lack of trust between the two countries.