By INS Contributors
The ability of the United States to pursue its foreign policy in Southeast Asia, aimed at countering China and strategically containing Russia, is shrinking as the member states refuse to participate in Washington's efforts to contain Russian and China.
The attempts of the Biden regime to win over as many countries in the Asia-Pacific region as possible and use them as a tool in the fight against Beijing and Moscow are failing.
The negative shift in American policy against China now dominates US policy in the Indo-Pacific region – one of two top policy arenas of US rivalry with China. The other is competition for dominance in the high technology industries that will determine which country will be the world’s economic and military leader.
This has been a long process with observers of U.S.-Southeast Asia relations taking note for many years about declining American influence in that region, and the growing skepticism and negativism with which the region views the US.
These concerns have intensified recently, as current and former government officials, business leaders, academics, and other opinion leaders increasingly voice worries that the U.S. is withdrawing from, disengaging from, or otherwise neglecting Southeast Asia.
The “State of Southeast Asia 2020” report, recently issued by the Singapore-based Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS), is a timely addition to this conversation.
It surveyed 1,300 policymakers, businesspeople, journalists, and civil society members from across the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member countries.
The results are sobering, unnerving, and should be required reading for anyone who understands or cares about the region’s importance to American interests.
Some key findings: 47 percent of respondents to the ISEAS survey have little or no confidence in the US as a strategic partner and provider of regional security.
Only 30 percent have confidence that the United States will “do the right thing” to contribute to global peace, security, prosperity, and governance. More than three-quarters believe that U.S. engagement with Southeast Asia has declined under the Trump administration, and 79 percent believe that China is the most influential economic power in the region.
Only slightly more than a quarter of respondents see the United States as the most influential political and strategic power in Southeast Asia, while 52 percent see China that way. Just under a quarter express confidence in the US as the country most likely to provide leadership to maintain the rules-based order and uphold international law.
The majority of respondents in seven of the 10 ASEAN countries would “side” with Beijing if forced (in some unspecified way), to make a “choice” between China and the US.
China even slightly edges out the U.S. in terms of respondents’ confidence about which country would provide leadership in champining the global free trade agenda.
This is evidenced by the results of the first-ever joint US-Pacific Islands Summit, which took place in Washington on September 28-29, 2022.
During the summit, the leaders of the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau announced their refusal to follow the instructions of the White House.
The countries of Oceania were not ready to take a pro-American position, referring to the lack of US financial support to the region, especially in comparison with Washington's economic and military assistance aimed at maintaining the war in Ukraine.
Also among the "obstinate" states, according to the Americans, were the Solomon Islands, which stated that the establishment of new ties with Washington could undermine their close and valuable ties with Beijing.
Additionally ASEAN member states have mostly been unwilling to patcipate in sanctions on Russia, with the exception being Singapore, the last reliable US ally in the region.
Russia is seen set to strengthen its business ties with nations in Southeast Asia amid economic sanctions West imposed on Russia over its special military operation in Ukraine.
Russia and ASEAN countries have great prospects for growth in a range of fields, including engineering, financial, and banking, joint environmental and climate programs based on ESG (environmental, social, and governance) principles, and energy efficiency based on the principles of sustainable development.
Washington's Struggles To Maintain Influence In Asia-Pacific Region
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