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US, China, Russia join Asian summit amid regional disputes


President Joe Biden and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will join an annual summit of 18 Asia-Pacific countries on Wednesday via video in a region where world powers clash over trade, Taiwan, democracy, human rights. man and Beijing’s increasingly assertive actions in the disputed territories.

Russian President Vladimir Putin will also speak at the East Asia Summit, a broad forum on political, security and economic issues hosted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which includes 10 members.

The World Health Organization is expected to brief leaders on the pandemic, which has shrunk the economies of 18 countries representing more than half of the world’s population and accounting for more than 60% of global GDP.

A White House statement on Wednesday said Biden would reaffirm US support for the ASEAN-led regional architecture and discuss his vision of working with allies and partners to resolve issues facing the Indo-Pacific region. . It was the first time since 2017 that a US president had attended the summit, part of three-day high-level meetings hosted by Brunei, president of ASEAN this year.

In a separate meeting with ASEAN leaders on Tuesday, Biden announced a $ 100 million initiative to strengthen the United States’ engagement in the region in the face of China’s growth as an adversary of national and economic security. Biden called America’s relationship with the bloc essential. The funding will cover healthcare spending, a new climate initiative, education and programs to support economic recovery.

I want you all to hear straight from me about the importance the United States places on its relationship with ASEAN, Biden said. You can expect to see me appear and contact you.

Relations between Washington and Beijing have fallen to new lows since their fall under the administration of former President Donald Trump, who took a confrontational approach to trade, visas, diplomatic representation and educational exchanges.

A long-standing dispute over Taiwan erupted recently after Biden said the United States was firmly committed to helping the governed, which China claims to be part of its territory, defend themselves in the event of an attack.

The US nuclear submarine deal with Australia and the UK also angered China, which claims most of the disputed South China Sea and warned the pact would threaten regional stability.

The issue could be raised at a separate meeting Wednesday between the Australian leader and ASEAN. Some ASEAN countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia are also concerned that the pact may increase tensions in hot spots such as the South China Sea and trigger an arms race.

The three-day ASEAN meetings were clouded by a diplomatic standoff after the military-controlled Myanmar skipped the summit to protest ASEAN’s decision to ban the participation of General Min Aung Hlaing, whose the forces seized power in February.

ASEAN censorship of Myanmar boldest after bloc envoy barred from meeting with ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other political detainees in proposed dialogue to alleviate the crisis which killed more than 1,100 demonstrators, most of them anti-military.

Myanmar refused to send a junior representative to the summit and criticized ASEAN’s move as going against the bloc’s principles of non-interference in each other’s affairs and consensus decision-making .

Biden on Tuesday denounced the Myanmar military for its use of horrific violence against protesters and pledged U.S. support for the nation’s return to democracy.

In a statement by the president released after the summit on Tuesday, bloc leaders urged Myanmar to give its envoy, Brunei’s second foreign minister, Eryan Yusof, full access to all parties and release political detainees .

While respecting ASEAN’s principle of non-interference, the bloc said it must also strike a balance in terms of the rule of law, good governance, democracy and constitutional government in Myanmar’s situation.

We reiterated that Myanmar remains a member of the ASEAN family and recognized that Myanmar needs both time and political space to face its many and complex challenges, ”the group said.

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First publication: STI

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