By Invitation

The return of good old-fashioned diplomacy

A rash of high-profile summits places Asean at the heart of global diplomacy this year

New: Gift this subscriber-only story to your friends and family

This week's special summit for Asean leaders in Washington proved to be a traditional affair. Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and seven of his Asean counterparts enjoyed a busy two-day programme, from meetings on Capitol Hill and sit-downs with chief executives to a lavish dinner with President Joe Biden.

At one level the summit showcased ongoing efforts by the United States to match China's courtship of Asean, as both nations continue their battle for global influence and power. But it signals a more welcome development too: the rapid return of in-person diplomacy as the long Covid-19 pandemic finally draws to an end.

Already a subscriber? 

Dive deeper at $0.99/month

Want more exclusives, sharp insights into what's happening at home and abroad? Subscribe to stay informed.

Unlock these benefits

  • All subscriber-only content on ST app and straitstimes.com

  • Easy access any time via ST app on 1 mobile device

  • 2-week e-paper archive so you never miss out on any topic that matters to you

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 14, 2022, with the headline The return of good old-fashioned diplomacy. Subscribe