Why an ordinary US-Asean summit is special

Critics have pointed to the lack of flashy outcomes. That is to miss the true measure of foundation-laying in the relationship and how Asean fits into America’s Indo-Pacific strategy.

US President Joe Biden attending the US-Asean special summit in Washington on May 13, 2022. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG
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As attention pivots to President Joe Biden's visits to Seoul and Tokyo and the launch of his signature economic framework, the contributions of Asean and its recent Washington summit should not be overlooked.

Whatever else the Asean-US special summit was, it was profoundly ordinary. Yet it was the matter-of-fact nature in which Mr Biden went about for the first time hosting his South-east Asian counterparts at the White House that provided a glimmer of diplomatic normalcy in an age of upheaval and rivalry. More importantly, the summit laid a sturdy foundation on which Mr Biden can now hoist the economic pillar of his regional strategy.

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