AUKUS: Australia and US to dedicate nearly $200 million in financial aid to Southeast Asia

AUKUS: Australia and US to dedicate nearly $200 million in financial aid to Southeast Asia

Major Southeast Asian countries, including Indonesia and Malaysia, have expressed concern about the AUKUS alliance, saying they fear the bloc’s actions will worsen the security situation in the region.

Australia has pledged to send more than ten million doses of COVID-19 vaccines and US$94 million (about R$523 million) in financial aid to Southeast Asian countries to address “complex and emerging challenges” in the region.

In an effort to reduce the discontent of some countries in the region, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday (27) that the AUKUS alliance between Australia, the UK and the USA, “does not change Australia’s commitment to ASEAN. [sigla inglesa da Associação de Nações do Sudeste Asiático] or ASEAN’s outlook on the Indo-Pacific, in fact, it [a aliança] strengthens it”, foreshadowed by Japan Times Agency.

Morrison said on the sidelines of the 16th ASEAN summit, “The Ocus does not change Australia’s deep and long-standing commitment to nuclear non-proliferation. Australia does not and will not pursue nuclear weapons, as I am sure. All ASEAN members will.” The presidency of Brunei takes place from Tuesday (26) in videoconferencing format.

The Australian Prime Minister said that AUKUS reaffirms Canberra’s support for ASEAN-led regional architecture and that Australia remains deeply committed to international law and “orders based on rules that underpin regional security”.

The $94 million fund will be directed toward economic recovery after the new coronavirus pandemic, terrorism, transnational crime, energy security, the transition to low-emission technologies and the circular economy.

America will also send help

On Tuesday (26), US President Joe Biden addressed ASEAN leaders, the first US president to do so since 2017, reinforcing Washington’s commitment to the region amid growing Chinese influence. Biden, however, did not mention Beijing in his speech.

“The relationship between the US and ASEAN is vital, vital to the future of our one billion people” […]. Our partnership is essential to maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific, which has been the foundation of our shared security and prosperity for many decades,” the US President said.

According to the White House, Biden is expected to announce US$102 million (R$566 million) in aid to nations in the Indo-Pacific region this Wednesday (27).

© AP Photo / Susan Walsh

President Joe Biden speaks in Washington on October 21, 2021

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The Australian prime minister has faced criticism since the announcement of the AUKUS coalition on 15 September.

Malaysia and Indonesia have indicated that ASEAN members may submit a joint statement that will detail the “shared member state’s response to the Ocus”. These countries fear that the centrality and unity of ASEAN could be at risk due to the involvement of a major power in the region.

ASEAN is made up of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

About the author: Cory Weinberg

Cory Weinberg covers the intersection of tech and cities. That means digging into how startups and big tech companies are trying to reshape real estate, transportation, urban planning, and travel. Previously, he reported on Bay Area housing and commercial real estate for the San Francisco Business Times. He received a "best young journalist" award from the National Association of Real Estate Editors.

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