Face-to-face regional diplomacy resumes . . .
After a two-year interruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ‘summit season’ in Asia kicks off today with several high-level international gatherings taking place over the coming weeks. From November 10-13, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and East Asia Summit will be held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Meeting will follow, from November 14-19, in Bangkok, Thailand, and the G20 will be held on the Indonesian island of Bali from November 15-16. US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping will be meeting on the margins of the G20 on Monday, their first in-person bilateral meeting as presidents. The two leaders are expected to discuss ways to manage their countries’ increasingly strained relationship.
High on the agenda . . .
While each of these summits has its own agenda and priorities, escalation on the Korean Peninsula, developments in the South China Sea, pandemic recovery issues, digitalization, regional trade and economy recovery, and the fight against climate change will loom large over summit discussions. Of particular relevance for ASEAN is the deteriorating situation in Myanmar, which will also be addressed. The Russia-Ukraine war will also likely be top of mind, especially as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is expected to address the ASEAN Summit via video link ahead of Ukraine’s possible participation in the G20 meeting the following week.
Canada to step up engagement in the Indo-Pacific . . .
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is travelling to the region to attend all three leaders’ summits. Ottawa has yet to release its Indo-Pacific strategy, detailing how Canada will step up its engagement in the region. But Minister of Foreign Affairs Mélanie Joly outlined the main objectives of this new engagement strategy in a speech she delivered yesterday in Toronto: contributing to regional stability; supporting trade, investment, and supply chain resilience; promoting and defending human rights; supporting the fight against climate change; and diversifying and strengthening Canada’s partnerships in the region. Minister Joly said the long-awaited strategy will be released within a month.