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.
© Sputnik / Yevgeny Palin
Russian President Vladimir Putin during his speech at the 16th ASEAN Summit, October 27, 2021
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
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.