Why U.S President Obama will meet with 10 leaders of the Associate of Southeast Asian nations to build closer relation with the region?

U.S President Barack Obama will meet leaders of 10 Southeast Asian nations on February 15th and 16th, 2016 for two-day closed-door summit at the Sunnylands estate in Rancho Mirage, South California.

asean-summit-2015

10 ASENA leaders at the 26th ASEAN Summit Malaysia.

(Source: http://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2015/04/acscapf-asean-governments-adversarial-notions-against-csos-must-change-in-the-post-2015-vision/)

 

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was formed in 1967. The members include Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos and Burma, Cambodia. The goal of community is promoting political and economic cooperation and regional stability

 

The summit will discuss business and trade ties, terrorism and regional irritants such as Beijing’s disputed territorial claims in the South China Sea, U.S. officials said. The Southeast Asian region has been sandwiched between the U.S and China. The U.S. wants to solve the issue ranging from security to trade with the region.

 

First of all, the disputed China Sea is a serious issue between China and ASEAN countries. Recently, China shows its territorial ambitions through expanding construction of artificial islands on disputed South China Sea reefs. In spite, China signed a nonbinding agreement with ASEAN committing to avoid provocative activities in the South China Sea. China didn’t respond to this concern directly. The U.S expected ASEAN countries to unite toward this issue. It is also clear that ASEAN countries may want the U.S to be involved in this issue.

 

Moreover, the U.S is one of the major trading partners for ASEAN. The U.S exports about 100 billion to ASEAN countries. ASEAN is also the number one destination for the U.S investment in Asia. However, China is also one of the biggest trading partner for ASEAN and is dominant power in the region.

 

OJ-AG057_USASIA_16U_20160211070910

Therefore, we can expect the closed-door summit for the U.S president with ten leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will discuss about not only trade but also security issue. Even though, the U.S official said it is informal and less scripted meeting and there will be no agreement to be sighed, we can still say this meeting will be influential and helpful for future trade situation and agreement.

 

This meeting shows the U.S’ willing for building closer trade relationship with the Southeast Asian countries and for maintaining security in this region. It is possible the U.S may want to rebalance the power of China in this region through economic and other methods. This summit could be a milestone in U.S strategic engagement with Asia and the signal for rebalancing the power in the region.

 

Some analysts said the summit may help build support for the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is a trade agreement to promote economic growth, reduce poverty, enhance environmental protections and is also focus on intellectual property laws.

 

This meeting is the signal that the U.S wants Southeast Asian countries to support the U.S for rebalance, although U.S. officials denied that the summit is anti-China. Besides that, the meeting is for ten countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to integrate their economies, bring prosperous for the region and seek for security though the U.S’ rebalance.

 

References:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-moves-to-boost-ties-on-chinas-doorstep-1455192365?cb=logged0.33319734781980515

http://www.asean.org/asean/about-asean/overview/

http://www.state.gov/p/eap/regional/asean/

http://www.wsj.com/articles/china-expands-island-construction-in-disputed-south-china-sea-1424290852

 

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