Think regional, act local - the better US approach to South-east Asia

The Biden administration deserves kudos for stronger diplomatic engagement with the region; here are some steps to improve on its current efforts

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The recent Shangri-La Dialogue exposed the stark differences between the United States and China's respective visions for Asian security. Whereas Beijing believes that Washington is "fanning confrontation" in the region, the US worries China's growing assertiveness threatens the freedom and openness of the Indo-Pacific.

Bilateral disagreements over Taiwan, the South China Sea and regional order are unlikely to abate in the near term. More broadly, the two countries are competing for influence in Asia. But Washington's Asia policy needs to be about more than just competing with China.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 20, 2022, with the headline Think regional, act local - the better US approach to South-east Asia. Subscribe