The U.S. President opens ASEAN Summit in Washington.
The U.S. President Joe Biden, opening a meeting of Southeast Asian leaders, promised to spend $150 million on their infrastructure, security, pandemic preparedness and other efforts aimed at countering China’s influence.
Biden kicked off a two-day summit with ten countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Washington on Thursday, giving a dinner in honor of the assembled leaders at the White House ahead of talks at the Department of State on Friday.
Biden smiled broadly as he posed for a group photo on the south lawn of the White House before dinner with representatives from Brunei, Indonesia, Cambodia, Singapore, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines.
Although the Russian invasion of Ukraine is on the agenda, the Biden administration hopes that this event will show countries that Washington remains focused on the Indo-Pacific region and the long-term challenges from China, in which it sees the country’s main competitor.
The new financial commitments include $40 million in infrastructure investments aimed at decarbonizing the region’s energy, $60 million for maritime safety, and about $15 million in healthcare funding for early detection of COVID-19 and other respiratory pandemics.
Additional funding will help countries develop laws on the digital economy and artificial intelligence.