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Is Asean better off without the US?

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AS recently as just two years ago, whether the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) is better off without the attention of the United States is not a question you would ever hear asked.

While it’s hard to believe this being the case in the long run – the relationship between Asean and America has undoubtedly been a lucrative and beneficial one – experts at the SCMP China Conference in Kuala Lumpur, are pondering if this might be for the best in the short-term.

It won’t have escaped anyone’s attention that the White House has gone through a dramatic shift in the last two years. Times have changed since former-president Barack Obama’s “Pivot to Asia.”

The new administration has adopted a somewhat different style. Rather than playing “a larger, more comprehensive role,” as Obama vowed, they have taken a more hands-off approach.

President Barack Obama, center, waves as he poses for a group photo with the leaders of ASEAN, the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations, at the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, California. Source: AP

Trump pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which included key Southeast Asian countries, as the first order of business when he took office.

While Obama made a point of attending the annual Asean Summit, Trump only dropped in for the gala dinner last year and didn’t stay for the whole event.

This year, he has snubbed both the........

© Asian Correspondent