Single title

ASEAN-US Relations during Joe Biden’s Presidency

by Bong Chansambath

Prospects and Challenges

The fourth chapter reflects on the evolution of ASEAN-US relations since 1977 before investigating Joe Biden’s foreign policy towards ASEAN. It considers the economic ties, as well as political-security and socio-political ties. It also offers policy recommendations for a successful ASEAN Chairmanship led by Cambodia.

In its early days, ASEAN was viewed with scepticism by the United States, which perceived the bloc as weak and divided due to its consensus-based decision-making mechanism and diplomatic pomp and circumstance. However, Washington’s attitude towards ASEAN began to evolve due to factors such as the rise of China, growing transnational threats, and regional economic growth. On its part, ASEAN needs an enduring American presence in the region to maintain peace and stability. As the 2022 Chairman of ASEAN, Cambodia will have an opportunity to shape the agenda and lead the discussion on some of the most pressing issues in the region, such as the simmering US-China rivalry, the COVID-19 pandemic, the political crisis in Myanmar, the South China Sea maritime conflict, and transnational security threats like the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), cyberattacks, and terrorism. At the same time, it will be under immense pressure from both Washington and Beijing, the mutual tensions of which have escalated into a multi-pronged strategic competition encompassing the economic, technological, military, and geopolitical domains.
This chapter consists of four sections. First, it examines the evolution of ASEAN-US relations since 1977. Second, it looks at Joe Biden’s foreign policy towards ASEAN. Third, it analyzes the major challenges facing Cambodia’s 2022 Chairmanship and offers policy recommendations for a successful tenure. Last, it ends with a conclusion.