Asean is less dysfunctional on geopolitics than it seems

The club is more united than a decade ago. But differences with the United States have widened. 

Increasingly, Asean members are coalescing around a common perspective which is wary of China. PHOTO: REUTERS
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This week, Washington’s attention will be squarely on South-east Asia. US President Joe Biden will travel to the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh to attend a summit with Asean, and then the broader East Asia Summit – involving Russia, China, Japan, India and Australia, among others – before continuing on to the G-20 in Indonesia.

The Phnom Penh summits, bringing rival powers to the table at a meeting chaired by a small developing country, point to the unique role which Asean occupies amid the competition for influence between Beijing and Washington.

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