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President Joe Biden’s claims about engaging with Asia have been empty rhetoric, and instead, the administration has ceded ground to China in the region, Milken Institute Asia Fellow Curtis Chin told Fox News Digital.
“Nearly two years into the Biden Administration, there’s been a continuing failure by the White House to communicate a coherent and comprehensive policy and program of actions when it comes to China and the rest of Asia,” Chin said.
“I think what we’re finding in Asia is that there’s a whole lot of blah, blah, blah from the Biden administration, but not enough strategy and action,” he added.
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A former U.S. ambassador to the Asia Development Bank, Chin noted Vice President Kamala Harris has visited the region, but at the same time as her trip, Afghanistan fell to the Taliban following the U.S. withdrawal.
He also cited Biden’s failure to nominate a U.S. ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations as evidence that the administration is not engaging in the region, and he said following the “disastrous” U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, the world began questioning the United States’ leadership.
Chin said the Biden administration needs to further support U.S. private-sector investment in Southeast Asia that go “beyond senior government visits.”
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“The private sector actually also needs to step up its economic game,” he said. “When it comes to Southeast Asia, people don’t actually already realize that American businesses are there, that if you look at the numbers, there’s more U.S. investment in Southeast Asia than there is in the famous BRIC nations of Brazil, Russia, India and China combined.”
Chin said that despite this investment, the U.S. has not engaged in the region enough, ceding ground to China.
“And so what has happened in this absence of greater U.S. engagement has been China filling that void,” he said, noting that when choosing between the U.S. and China, those in Southeast Asia rely on the businesses and tourists they see most frequently in their cities.
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Chin added the waning of the COVID pandemic has offered a unique opportunity for U.S. businesses to engage in the region.
“Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore also offer up a diversity of tremendous opportunities for partnership and engagement that are worth exploring,” he said.