The Straits Times says

S-E Asia looks to new US engagement

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This week, more than a month after Americans went to the polls, the Democratic Party's Mr Joe Biden was finally affirmed as winner of the Nov 3 presidential election by the Electoral College. As the United States turns the page on the Donald Trump administration and the transition to a Biden one moves full steam ahead, South-east Asian countries will look forward to a new chapter in their ties. After four years of the uncertainty and unpredictability of the Trump administration, the expectations are that of greater stability and predictability in the new administration's approach towards the region. Importantly, they would appreciate it if more attention is paid after four years of relative neglect by Washington.

This is especially as the region has faced a China that has become more powerful and assertive. While the Trump administration pushed back against China's assertiveness in the South China Sea, the absence of the President and of senior US officials from key summits led to a sense that Washington lacked commitment to the region. Mr Biden can, however, reassure countries about the importance he attaches to ties with them and the region by showing up himself and by sending senior officials to key forums such as the East Asia Summit. At a time when regional economies are becoming more enmeshed with China's - including through Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to build infrastructure overseas, and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership free trade deal - they will welcome more US economic engagement to balance this.

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