IDNAround – The US government on Thursday said that the four-member Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, commonly known as the Quad, would welcome cooperation with ASEAN as it pursues to close the infrastructure gap in the Indo-Pacific region.
The US in Feb. 2022 unveiled its Indo-Pacific Strategy that lays out Washington’s vision for the region that accounts for 60 percent of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP). The US envisions the Indo-Pacific as a free, open, and prosperous region.
The Quad — a partnership encompassing Australia, India, Japan, and the US — is working to build the region’s infrastructure. The Quad announced in 2022 that it would extend over $50 billion of infrastructure assistance and investment in the Indo-Pacific over the next five years.
All individual members of the Quad are ASEAN dialogue partners. ASEAN has even accorded the comprehensive strategic partnership (CSP) status to all respective Quad members, with the exception of Japan.
Tokyo, however, has formally requested the establishment of a CSP status with ASEAN.
The Quad has formed a coordination group aimed to help the Indo-Pacific meet its infrastructure needs. The Quad over the past years has also provided substantial infrastructure financing in the Indo-Pacific, according to Camille P Dawson, a deputy assistant secretary at the US State Department.
“Since 2015, Quad partners have provided more than $48 billion in official financing for infrastructure in the [Indo-Pacific] region. We continue to build on this momentum,” Dawson told the US Indo-Pacific Strategy and Southeast Asia Conference on Thursday.
“The Quad welcomes opportunities to work with ASEAN to deliver impactful initiatives in the region,” Dawson said.
She said Washington would continue to look to the connections between the US Indo-Pacific Strategy and its Southeast Asian counterpart: the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP). She added that such connections could “guide our efforts to create a more prosperous and secure future, including in maritime and economic cooperation, sustainable development, connectivity, and human capital development.”
ASEAN today has Indonesia at its helm.
Earlier this year, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said that ASEAN should consider the Quad — along with Aukus which is a separate defense pact comprising the US, the UK, and Australia — as partners. Malaysia’s New Straits Times at the time asked Jokowi about ASEAN chair Indonesia’s plans to strengthen its role in global security amidst the emergence of Quad and Aukus.
“To me, we should view the Quad and Aukus as partners, and not competitors. With regard to anything that happens in this region, ASEAN’s aim is to make the region a stable and peaceful one,” Jokowi told New Straits Times in early May.
Following Jokowi’s comment, Indonesian Permanent Representative to ASEAN Derry Aman said that the Southeast Asian bloc had not made any formal talks with Quad or Aukus.
“There is no formal mechanism. There is no formal dialogue or cooperation between ASEAN and Quad or Aukus,” Derry said at a FPCI foreign policy forum in Jakarta on May 15.
“Mr. Jokowi [made the statement] based on the general knowledge that ASEAN is open to any interaction and cooperation that should be meaningful to ASEAN,” Derry said.
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