As leaders across the Indo-Pacific region gather in Bangkok this weekend for the 14th East Asia Summit (EAS), the United States will be conspicuous for the absence of its top two leaders, President Donald Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence.
Mr Trump managed to attend the EAS two years ago in Manila, and designated Mr Pence to stand in for him last year in Singapore. That Mr Trump has decided to assign a lower-level delegation this year, led by National Security Adviser (NSA) Robert O'Brien and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, sends wrong signals and messages to US allies and partners just as China under President Xi Jinping's steady stewardship continues to make geopolitical headway.
We have been experiencing some problems with subscriber log-ins and apologise for the inconvenience caused. Until we resolve the issues, subscribers need not log in to access ST Digital articles. But a log-in is still required for our PDFs.