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US to host ASEAN Summit

US President Joe Biden announced that the government will host a special summit of ASEAN nations soon. The move to host the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in spring might be an attempt by the US to indicate how important that region is, strategically. Amid the growing Chinese footprint in the region, the US wants to reiterate that Indo-Pacific is important to them and so is the ASEAN.  

This announcement was made when the Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien was visiting the White House on 29 March. The White House, however, is yet to announce the dates for this summit. 

During the meeting of the US President and Singaporean leader, both of them expressed their commitment to free navigation and free movement of commerce in the South China sea. 

The visiting leader welcomed President Biden’s proposal to host a summit. 

The Prime Minister commented that “It’s a strong affirmation of American commitment to Southeast Asia and to ASEAN centrality. The President and I discussed the importance of the US growing both its strategic and economic stakes in Asia-Pacific.”

The US President also added that Singapore and the US are together in upholding the rules-based international order, supporting the basic principles of the UN. They are also together to ensure that Indo-Pacific remains free and open. 

The leaders discussed a range of issues about peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. The President also added that the roles of all nations, including China, were discussed to keep the region free and open. 

China has claimed the majority of the area under the South China Sea as its own. These claims are contested by Brunei, Taiwan, Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia. In recent years, Beijing has built artificial islands on the South China Sea, which operate as its military bases. It has also been obstructing commercial activities by neighbouring countries like the Philippines and Vietnam. 

South China sea is not only important for natural resources and fish stocks, but it is also one of the busiest commercial maritime routes.

Recently, it was reported in Japanese media that the US and Japan will be asking ASEAN nations to join a new supply chain network framework for the supply of semiconductors and other strategic materials. The proposed network would reduce their dependence on China and also prevent any kind of shortages.