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Washington will pursue bilateralism in South-east Asia

Friday, July 5, 2019

Subject

US diplomacy in South-east Asia.

Significance

Randall Schriver, US Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asia, last month indicated that the United States will resume full military relations with Thailand, now that the Thai election process has concluded. To date, much of US President Donald Trump's engagement with Asia has focused on Washington's strategic and economic rivalry with Beijing.

Impacts

  • Washington's Asia focus will likely be on high-stakes issues such as the China trade dispute and denuclearisation talks with North Korea.
  • The United States will not shun regional meetings in South-east Asia, but neither will it propose new policy initiatives.
  • US relations with smaller and poorer countries in the region will be reduced to single issues, as with Myanmar and the Rohingya crisis.
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