Washington, 27 July 2021 (TDI): U.S. Defense Secretary, Lloyd Austin set a trip to visit security partners including the Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam. He was the first member of President Joe Biden’s cabinet to visit Southeast Asia. The visit aims to strengthen alliances and partnerships with each important country in Southeast Asia and emphasizes their support of keeping rules-based in the wider Indo-Pacific region free and open.
The Philippines, the oldest ally of the US, has limitations in terms of access in the region considering the circumstances of its Visiting Forces Agreement to the country. Following Singapore as a significant security partner, as well as Vietnam, which has the most competition with China.
The US Defence Secretary calls out Chinese behavior in the South China Sea. Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, and Taiwan all have rival claims to Beijing’s in the South China Sea and stress US’s presence is vital in the face of China’s presence in the sea.