ASEAN defends its Indo-Pacific ‘centrality’ between Quad and China

ASEAN defends its Indo-Pacific ‘centrality’ between Quad and China

Myanmar and COVID crises threaten bloc’s role in regional order.

SINGAPORE — As superpower encounters go these days, it was par for the course.

At the online ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting Plus, or ADMM-Plus, on June 16, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin pushed Washington’s vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific. His Chinese counterpart, Gen. Wei Fenghe, vowed to protect Beijing’s “core interests.” The world has heard both points countless times.

But for Singaporean Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen, the important thing was that Austin, Wei and representatives from 16 other countries came together to discuss contentious subjects. Taiwan, South China Sea territorial disputes, bloodshed in Myanmar — all were on the table.

“The fact that these issues were raised shows that the ADMM-Plus continues to be relevant,” Ng said.

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