MANILA- United States President Donald Trump would most likely want security policies of member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to "jive" with US interests to match Washington’s protectionist policy, an analyst said Thursday.
National security analyst Prof. Chester Cabalza said the United States is concerned with ASEAN because of its growing influence not just in Asia but in Western countries as well.
“Definitely, there are areas of concerns where the US could take off given that last year and even in the previous years, they’ve been trying to engage with ASEAN,” he said in an interview on ANC.
Former US president Barack Obama, who had championed a "pivot to Asia," was a frequent visitor to the Asia-Pacific as he tried to gain the region's confidence in a bid to counter growing Chinese influence.
However under the Trump administration, Cabalza explained that Washington may be “trying to craft a new policy on how to engage with Asia,” this time with more priority on US security interests.
“They (US) want to increase their presence in the region and they want to tell to ASEAN that we still would want to engage with that kind of principle of freedom of navigation,” he said.
Cabalza said with growing concerns over terror threats in different parts of the world, Washington would most likely express concerns over ASEAN since some of US immigrants come from the region.
“In terms of security matter, ASEAN has issues on terrorism and of course some of the immigrants to the United States are from ASEAN also and it has to jive with the policies of the United States because they are also concerned of what’s happening in the region,” he said.
Washington under Trump has been highly-criticized for allegedly stoking Islamophobia. The administration has tried to ban travelers from several Muslim-majority countries citing concerns over terror threats, but US courts are still challenging the policy.
Cabalza said US may also be concerned about cyber security due to the growing impact of social media, and the maritime dispute over the South China Sea given Washington’s principle of freedom of navigation.
Though President Rodrigo Duterte has geared the Philippines towards a closer relationship with China and Russia, Cabalza said Manila would still need the presence of US forces in the region for an “equal equation” on power relationships.
“We still need their (US) presence in the region to stabilize and to have an equal equation in terms of the power relationship between these great powers, China and the US,” he said.
US Vice President Mike Pence had confirmed that Trump will attend the US-ASEAN Summit and the East Asia Summit, both to be held in the Philippines in November.