S1E101: US cements ties with India, Vietnam and why that matters

  • 22 Sep 2023

Asia hosted recent multilateral meetings but it is the US' bilaterals with India and Vietnam that really matter.

Synopsis: Every fourth Friday of the month, The Straits Times' US bureau chief Nirmal Ghosh presents an Asian perspective of the biggest global talking points with expert guests.

The East Asia Summit in Jakarta, and the G20 in New Delhi, broadly solidified US relations in the region, but it is the bilaterals with India and Vietnam that really mattered. 

The US was represented in Jakarta by Vice-President Kamala Harris. But the G20 saw President Joe Biden attending and supporting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s moment as global statesman in his role as chair of the grouping. In contrast, China’s President Xi Jinping was absent.

New Delhi also saw a reiteration of the increasingly close US-India relationship.

Of equal significance perhaps in terms of competition with China, was President Biden’s trip to Hanoi, Vietnam, where the two countries formally elevated their relationship. 

To unpack the significance of these meetings, ST’s US bureau chief Nirmal Ghosh hosts two guests in this episode:

1. Ambassador Scot Marciel, the former US diplomat to Myanmar, Indonesia and Asean,  who is now a senior advisor at Bower Group Asia

2. Dr Lynn Kuok, Shangri-La Dialogue senior fellow for Asia-Pacific security at the International Institute for Strategic Studies

Highlights (click/tap above):

3:40 Why the G20 cemented India’s image as a global diplomatic and strategic player

5:26 Why the so-called "double upgrade" of the US-Vietnam relationship is significant

6:18 Why Asean’s and the world’s approach to Myanmar has been flawed

11:08 Why the US focus should be a lot less on talking to South-east Asia about China, as the region already knows China well

14:35 Do US administrations really understand South-east Asia well enough and how to engage the region? Why Asean meetings are "not often satisfying" in terms of substance

Produced by: Nirmal Ghosh (nirmal@sph.com.sg) and Fa’izah Sani

Edited by: Fa’izah Sani

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