Why Asian nations should pause when America beckons

The Biden administration will continue to put forward initiatives, but the targets of its Asian courtship need to consider if these fit their interests and if the proposed deals can be relied on.

US President Joe Biden, Japanese PM Fumio Kishida and Indian PM Narendra Modi at the launch of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework in Tokyo in May. PHOTO: REUTERS
New: Gift this subscriber-only story to your friends and family

The Biden administration is stepping up its engagement with Asia. Amid the whirl of activity, however, questions emerge and not just about the details to be negotiated. More fundamental is the way the United States sees its partners. On their part, Asian countries need to consider changes within the US itself, and better estimate how reliable new initiatives might prove.

The Biden agenda for Asia is moving into higher gear and on multiple fronts. In mid-May, the summit with Asean resumed after a hiatus during the Trump presidency. At the end of the same month, President Joe Biden undertook his first visit to Asia. This was not simply to keep relations warm with long-time allies Japan and South Korea, or even Australia and India as partners in the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue.

Already a subscriber? 

Read the full story and more at $9.90/month

Get exclusive reports and insights with more than 500 subscriber-only articles every month

Unlock these benefits

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

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

  • E-paper with 2-week archive so you won't miss out on content that matters to you

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