Southeast Asian Countries Face Important Choice Between US and China

NTD Newsroom
By NTD Newsroom
June 26, 2019US News
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Southeast Asian countries now face an important choice between two big powers.

This week, President Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping will meet during the G20 summit in Japan. Southeast Asian countries are watching closely to see how the U.S.-China trade war will play out.

U.S. Congressman Ed Case said there’s one thing standing in the way of progress: “The real problem, the real diversion between us and China has been around our perception that China wants to play by its own rules but not by an international set of rules that’s served everybody well.”

A U.S. Congressional delegation recently visited Southeast Asia. They said many countries are facing the difficult choice between the United States and China. For many Southeast Asian countries, China is their largest trading partner and at the same time, they rely on the United States for security and defense.

“We obviously need to reach out to our allies, our friends and more importantly, to those that may not be on the same page with us, reassure them of our commitment to the Asia-Pacific and to the world, and we will put the resources and beliefs of the United States behind it,” Case said.

U.S. Congressman John Rutherford said, “A lot of the coercion that I believe China has used militarily and economically in the Indo-Pacific region, is a result of our lack of a fair trade agreement with China that allows them to have such a trade imbalance.”

At the ASEAN Leaders Summit in Thailand last weekend, the coalition developed a strategy document called “Outlook on the Indo-Pacific,” which emphasizes their commitment to ASEAN-centrality, cooperation, and inclusiveness within the region. Notably, it made no clear choice between the United States and China.

However, U.S. Assistant Defense Secretary Randy Schriver gave ASEAN countries a reminder last week: “When you actually say, ‘Okay, don’t choose between countries or capitals,’ but can you choose respect for sovereignty and independence of all nations large and small? Can you choose peaceful resolution of disputes? Can you choose free, fair, reciprocal trade and investment?”

Schriver said as long as countries agree with these universal principles and values, they will naturally stand with the U.S., and promote that vision.

 

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