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Biden pledges $150m to ASEAN with eye on China

US president kicks off summit with Southeast Asian leaders with commitment to fund infrastructure, security and health.

US President Joe Biden opened a summit of Southeast Asian leaders with a pledge to spend $150m on infrastructure, security and the anti-pandemic efforts, as Washington seeks to counter China’s rising influence in the region.

Biden on Thursday kicked off a two-day summit with the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Washington with a dinner at the White House ahead of talks at the State Department on Friday.

While Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is on the agenda, Biden’s administration hopes to demonstrate that Washington remains focused on the Asia-Pacific as Beijing becomes an increasingly powerful player in the region.

China in November pledged $1.5bn in development assistance to the ASEAN countries – Brunei, Indonesia, Cambodia, Singapore, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines – over three years to fight COVID and support

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