On Ukraine they reaffirmed “respect for sovereignty, political independence, and territorial integrity,” wording that a regional expert said went further than past ASEAN statements. The statement did not condemn Russia by name for its 24 February invasion.
Mr Biden’s administration hopes the effort will show that the United States remains focused on the Indo-Pacific and the long-term challenge of China, which it views as its main competitor, despite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
US President Joe Biden (C) poses with leaders of the US-ASEAN Special Summit during a family photo on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, on 12 May 2022. Source: AAP / PA
He was also hoping to persuade ASEAN countries to toughen their stance on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“The United States and ASEAN have shared a vision for this region, and together we will guard against threats to international rules and norms,” Ms Harris said.
Still, US spending pales in comparison to that of China, which in November alone pledged $1.5 billion in development assistance for ASEAN over three years to fight COVID-19 and fuel economic recovery.
He noted the statement on Ukraine did not condemn Russia by name, but said “the call to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty, political independence and territorial integrity is an obvious criticism of Russia and would seemingly commit all the ASEAN leaders to never recognize any Russian annexation on Ukraine.”
Analysts and diplomats have said only two ASEAN countries – Singapore and the Philippines – are expected to be among the initial group to sign up for negotiations under IPEF, which does not currently offer the expanded market access Asian nations want given Mr Biden’s concern for American jobs.