Biden offers $150m to Asean nations in bid to combat China influence
US President Joe Biden opened a gathering of Southeast Asian leaders with a promise to spend US$150 million on their infrastructure, security, pandemic preparedness, and other efforts aimed at countering the influence of rival China on Thursday.
Biden started the two-day summit in Washington with a dinner for the Asean leaders at the White House ahead of talks at the State Department on Friday.
The leaders gathered at the South Lawn of the White House to take a group photograph with a broadly smiling Biden before they trooped in for dinner.
While Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is on the agenda, Biden said he hopes the efforts will show Asean countries that Washington remains focused on the Indo-Pacific and the long-term challenge of China, which the US views as its main competitor.
In November alone, China pledged $1.5 billion in development assistance to Asean countries over three years to fight Covid and fuel economic recovery.