Asean Latest: Leaders Gather as China, US Vie For Influence


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(Bloomberg) — World leaders are gathering in Cambodia from Friday for the first of three back-to-back summits in Asia as the region seeks to balance between the competing interests of China and the US. 

Joe Biden in becoming the first US president to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit since 2017, will push a vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific region designed to counter Beijing’s growing military and technological clout. Joining him will be Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in a likely preview of the American president’s meeting with counterpart Xi Jinping at the Group of 20 summit in Indonesia. 

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As one of the world’s fastest growing economic regions, Southeast Asia is worried about the threat of bifurcation driven by US and China. Regional leaders will address concerns over tensions over Taiwan, or in the disputed South China Sea, which they say could lead to a full-blown conflict. 

The 10-member Association of Southeast Asia Nations will hold separate discussions with China, South Korea and the United Nations on Friday. 


  • Biden Gets Key Break as Southeast Asia Bolsters Militaries 
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  • Asean to Hold Myanmar to ‘Concrete’ Timeline to End Violence

Here are the latest developments. All times Cambodia. 

Cambodia Warns of Colossal Challenges (8:20 a.m.)

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Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen as the rotating chair of Asean opened the summit Friday, warning of “colossal challenges” and the prospect of conflict as relations deteriorate between the US and China.

“We should always be vigilant of the current social economic situation in Asean, as well as in the whole world remains fragile and divided,” he told leaders. “We are now at the most uncertain juncture.”

Jokowi Says Regions Needs to Be Engine of Growth (5:30 p.m.)

The biggest issues for the region are inflation and higher energy prices, Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo said in speech Thursday. Indonesia will be taking over as the Asean chair for next year. 

Southeast Asia needs to continue being an engine of growth with a focus on supply chains, said Jokowi, as the president is popularly known. Indonesia wants to play its part by shifting from exporting raw commodities to processing as it wants to avoid the middle income trap.

“We also need to make an energy transition, the conflict in Europe has taught us many lessons,” Jokowi said.


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