100s of titles, one news app for just $10 a month.
Dive Deeper:
Get all your news in one place
Latest World news:
Penny Wong tells Pacific nations ‘we have heard you’ as Australia and China battle for influence
Foreign minister uses speech in Fiji to declare ‘this is a different Australian government’ that will act responsibly on climate…
Read news from The Economist, FT, Bloomberg and more, with one subscription
Learn More
International Festival for Drums and Traditional Arts in Cairo Draws Thousands of Spectators
Colors and folk music brought joy back to the streets and squares of Cairo as it hosted the ninth edition…
Fully Buk-ed: Russian Buk Fires Missile Into Sky Over Ukraine
This slick footage shows a fearsome Russian Buk missile system launching a missile into the sky over Ukraine.
Al-Issa, Congress Members Discuss Values of Friendship, Cooperation
Sheikh Dr. Mohammad Al-Issa, Secretary-General of the Muslim World League, said that Saudi Arabia represented the unifying spirit of the…
Bittersweet Reunion: Captured Ukrainian Soldier Allowed To See His Mom At Prison Camp
This footage shows a captured Ukrainian soldier being allowed to see his mother at the prison camp where he is…
From analysis to good news, read the world’s best news in one place
Shock, horror as Uvalde mourns children killed in school shooting
Community of 16,000 deeply shaken after gunman killed 19 children at the Robb Elementary School.
Nominee for US Ambassador to Sudan Considers Applying Individual Sanctions
Nominee for US Ambassador to Sudan John Godfrey said that resuming paused development assistance to the African country is predicated…

ASEAN summit: U.S. seeks to "step up our game" and compete with China

President Biden is hosting the leaders of eight countries in Southeast Asia on Thursday and Friday, underscoring the importance of the region by holding a summit with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at the White House for the first time.

Why it matters: Home to some of the world’s fastest-growing economies and most contested waters, Southeast Asia is an epicenter of U.S.-China competition.


  • The White House announced $150 million in initiatives Thursday in areas including clean energy, maritime security and digital development.
  • It will also soon unveil a regional trade framework for the broader Indo-Pacific to set standards on things like labor practices and digital trade.
  • But many ASEAN countries will view that as an “all-pain, no-gain economic deal,” notes James Crabtree of Foreign Policy. The Biden administration is unwilling to negotiate trade deals that offer countries deeper access to the U.S. market.
  • China, which has a free trade deal with ASEAN, surpassed U.S. trade with the region in 2009 and has since sprinted far ahead, while also promising billions in infrastructure investment.

What they’re saying: Asked if China simply has more to offer ASEAN economically than the U.S., a senior administration official noted that China’s economic growth and geographic proximity meant it was only natural that trade with ASEAN would increase.

  • But the official noted that the U.S. was still the largest source of foreign direct investment in most ASEAN countries, that U.S. firms were currently turning to the region to strengthen their supply chains, and that U.S.-ASEAN trade typically has “a much higher value add."
  • Still, the official said the summit and the accompanying announcements should be seen as a recognition that “we need to step up our game in Southeast Asia.”
  • A Morning Consult poll out Thursday found that in two ASEAN countries, Indonesia and Singapore, views of trade with China and the U.S. are broadly positive and roughly equivalent.

The U.S. remains the primary security guarantor for the region, though China is attempting to challenge that (with limited success).

  • The Biden administration claims it's not trying to force countries in the region to choose between the U.S. and China, something they'd be loath to do.
  • Meanwhile, "China’s unpopularity in the region has grown in the past year, and China’s own domestic problems, stemming largely from its zero-COVID strategy, have hindered its normally robust regional diplomatic efforts," notes Joshua Kurlantzick of the Council on Foreign Relations.
  • Still, it’s clear that the superpower that won’t be in the room will still be looming over the proceedings.

Worth noting: While there was an empty chair at the summit for Myanmar, which has been suspended from ASEAN’s high-level gatherings since the 2021 coup, human rights was not expected to be on the agenda.

  • The bloc includes a number of authoritarian states, including the current chair, Cambodia.
  • In sharp contrast to the Summit of the Americas — where plans to bar Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela have drawn boycott threats — there was never a question of uninviting them.
  • However, Biden did draw a rebuke from Cambodia by declining to hold a bilateral with Prime Minister Hun Sen. The White House says he’ll have brief “private time” with each leader.

What to watch: Aside from Singapore, which has imposed sanctions on Moscow, most ASEAN countries have declined to take a firm stand over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It will be worth watching whether the leader’s statement released Friday makes any mention of the war.

What is inkl?
The world’s most important news, from 100+ trusted global sources, in one place.
Morning Edition
Your daily
news overview

Morning Edition ensures you start your day well informed.

No paywalls, no clickbait, no ads
Enjoy beautiful reading

Content is only half the story. The world's best news experience is free from distraction: ad-free, clickbait-free, and beautifully designed.

Expert Curation
The news you need to know

Stories are ranked by proprietary algorithms based on importance and curated by real news journalists to ensure that you receive the most important stories as they break.