President Joe Biden took part in the 2021 Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit on Tuesday morning and announced an investment worth up to $102 million to expand the United States's partnership with the group.
The president's announcement comes as the Biden administration has ramped up its focus on the Indo-Pacific region, specifically in terms of countering China's economic and military influence. His predecessor, former President Donald Trump, took part in the summit in 2017 but did not participate from 2018-2020.
"You can expect to see me personally showing up and reaching out. You can expect to see the United States deepening our long-standing cooperation, pursuing new avenues of ministerial dialogue, investing in our countries, and driving inclusive prosperity in this critical region," Biden told the other leaders gathered for the virtual summit. "Our bottom line is that ASEAN is essential to the central regional architecture of the Indo-Pacific, and the United States is committed to ASEAN's centrality."
The president called the group a "linchpin for maintaining resilience, the prosperity, and security of our shared region," and he closed by stating he looks forward to advancing "not only our many shared interests, but our shared values and shared vision for a region where every country can compete and succeed on a level playing field and that all nations, no matter how big or powerful, abide by the law."
ASEAN is comprised of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Tuesday's summit will also feature guest sessions with Russian President Vladimir Putin and officials from China and South Korea. Myanmar was excluded from participating in Tuesday's summit following the military coup that took place in the country earlier this year.
The U.S. investment includes $40 million in "new efforts to accelerate joint research, strengthen health system capacity, and develop the next generation of human capital in health through the U.S.-ASEAN Health Futures initiative," according to White House officials. The U.S. has invested more than $3 billion in promoting the Health Futures program with the ASEAN member states over the past 20 years.
The investment also directs $20.5 million toward a "new U.S.-ASEAN Climate Futures initiative dedicated to tackling the climate crisis and keeping the urgent goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius within reach."
The remaining funds will be split between pandemic economic recovery programs and education-related loans to member countries.
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Original Author: Christian Datoc
Original Location: Biden announces $100 million partnership with ASEAN following Trump snub