Representatives from nine Southeast Asian countries, as well as the secretary general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), gathered in Washington, D.C. for a two-day special summit. During this summit, the US has pledged to spend $150 million on Southeast Asian infrastructure, security, pandemic preparedness, and other initiatives aimed at reinforcing the ties between the U.S. and ASEAN, and implicitly at combating China’s influence in the region.
#1: Cooperation in maritime security (~$60 million)
The US Coast Guard will lead new regional marine activities with a budget of around $60 million. Among them are:
- Programs to assist ASEAN nations in combating illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, as well as preventing forced labor in the fishing industry.
- Deployment of a cutter vessel for security cooperation in Southeast Asia and Oceania, as well as a training platform. According to the White House, the cutter will be deployed across the region and will conduct training missions as well as participate in “cooperative maritime engagements.”
- Additional US Coast Guard support for maritime law enforcement agencies in Southeast Asia, including the first deployment of a training team to the region.
- Standardization of the energy safeguarding procedure, protection of critical maritime infrastructure and all-hazards response through training.
#2: Clean energy and Infrastructure (~$40 million)
Another $40 million will be used to help raise $2 billion in funding for clean energy infrastructure in the region, with the goal of speeding the adoption of clean energy technologies.
The United States will also implement programs to assist ASEAN countries in combating deforestation, reducing methane emissions, and increasing conservation. A new U.S.-ASEAN Climate Solutions Hub will give technical help to ASEAN governments, among other things.
#3: Public health (~ $15 million)
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will roll out a $5 million program to boost pan-respiratory disease surveillance in Southeast Asia through its new regional office in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Furthermore, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will invest up to $10 million in regional programs to improve early diagnosis and community response to Covid-19, tuberculosis, and other airborne infections.
#4: Education (~$5 million)
The U.S.-ASEAN Institute for Rising Leaders, which will send public officials from ASEAN nations to the U.S. for professional and leadership training, will be launched by the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
The State Department will also expand its Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative and the Fulbright U.S.-ASEAN Visiting Scholarship Program. In addition, it will spend $3 million on English language programs in Southeast Asia.
Moreover, the State Department will launch a new exchange program for academic fellows from ASEAN universities to visit the United States and explore collaboration opportunities with US academics.
#5: Digital investments (~$10 million)
The United States will announce a $6 million regional strategy to boost innovation, strengthen digital economy rule-making, and support the adoption of global artificial intelligence standards.
The article, as reported by the Straits Time, can be retrieved here.
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