Can the United States sustain its gathering momentum in Asia?

Author: Ryan Hass, Brookings Institution Last year was a strong year for US foreign policy in Asia. Washington strengthened key alliances, upgraded relations with important partners, advanced institutional innovations in forums such as the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue and took advantage of a favourable diplomatic calendar to improve its standing in the region — all while re-normalising relations with Beijing. US President Joe Biden arrives at the Leaders Retreat during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in San Francisco, California, US, 17 November 2023 (Photo: Reuters/Loren Elliott) These advances are dividends of the Biden administration’s Asia strategy. Biden’s cabinet focused on domestic issues in 2021 and used 2022 to align more closely with key allies and partners. These efforts built a foundation from which the United States could step up its presence in Asia in 2023. The United States upgraded its relations with Indonesia and Vietnam, two strong and rising players in Southeast Asia. It also deepened its relationship with India, particularly in the technology and defence sectors. Working in tandem with key partners such as Australia, the United States bolstered its presence in the Pacific Islands as well. Washington ably managed potential regional flashpoints in the Taiwan Strait, the South China Sea and the Korean peninsula. Perhaps most notably, it made strides in advancing relations with and among allies. Biden and his team engaged intensively with counterparts in Australia, the Philippines, South Korea and Japan. Japanese Prime Minister Kishida, South Korean President Yoon and President Biden’s decision to deepen trilateral cooperation at the Camp David Summit was a crowning achievement of a banner year. Alongside these gains, the United States found firmer footing in its relations with China. After a tumultuous first half of 2023, Washington and Beijing reopened diplomatic channels and coordinated productive leader-level engagement between Biden and […]

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