US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien has advocated a free and open Indo-Pacific, a strategic region that has regained a global focus given China’s expansive behavior.
At the US-ASEAN virtual summit on Friday, Mr. O’Brien highlighted the tremendous benefits the partnership has brought to the prosperity, security and wellbeing of over a billion people in the US and ASEAN countries, said the White House in a statement.
He reaffirmed the US’s longstanding commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.
ASEAN is considered one of the most influential groups in the region, and India and several other countries, including the US, China, Japan and Australia, are its dialogue partners.
The ASEAN virtual summit, which began Thursday, is taking place amid China’s aggressive behavior in the controversial South China Sea. A number of ASEAN countries have territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea.
Beijing claims almost the entire 1.3 million square miles of the South China Sea as territory. China has established military bases on man-made islands in the region, some of which are claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.
Beijing has hindered commercial activities such as fishing and mineral exploration by neighbors in recent years, declaring that ownership of the resource-rich sea area has belonged to China for hundreds of years.
The 10 member countries of ASEAN are Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia.
Mr O’Brien, who attended the summit as Donald Trump’s special envoy, shared a message on behalf of the President welcoming the 5th anniversary of the US-ASEAN strategic partnership.
Donald Trump attended the ASEAN summit in 2017 but only sent representatives during the last two meetings. A special summit with ASEAN, which he was supposed to host in Las Vegas in March, was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr. O’Brien will also represent the US at a virtual summit in East Asia on Saturday.
The East Asia Summit (EAS) is the main forum in the Asia-Pacific region dealing with security and defense issues. Since its inception in 2005, it has played a significant role in the strategic, geopolitical and economic development of East Asia.
The virtual summit on Saturday will be chaired by Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and will be attended by all 18 EAS countries.
In addition to the 10 ASEAN member states, the East Asia Summit includes India, China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia, New Zealand, the USA and Russia.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and posted from a syndicated feed.)