I wrote a long post and analysis tonight on this AFP (Agence Francaise de Presse) article "US eyes Indonesia, Vietnam as potential strategic allies in Southeast Asia". It was unfortunately eaten by my blog interface TypePad.
Here is a quick summary:
- Deputy Sec. of State Robert Zoellick is traveling to Southeast Asia on an important trip. Here is the State Departments press release: "Deputy Secretary of State Robert B. Zoellick will travel to Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, and the Philippines May 2-11. He will be seeking the perspectives of these countries on a variety of economic, political, and security issues, as well as presenting ideas on how we might strengthen ties in President Bush’s second term."
- The US is moving forward its economic ties by offering Vietnam WTO support in exchange for advancing military coordination. The purpose of this is the containment of China, much like the US is doing with India, Japan and Australia. According to AFP, "Strong US-Vietnam relations will be an effective bulwark against any Chinese regional military expansion while Indonesia is crucial in the US 'war on terror,' of which predominantly-Muslim Southeast Asia is seen as a key front, analysts say."
- US goodwill in Indonesia is on the rise after recent lows because of the US response to the tsunami disaster.
Speaking of Deputy Secretary of State Zoellick, AFP writes, "Washington also wishes to help Indonesia regain its leadership role in ASEAN, the third largest market for US exports and a key American investment destination, he said."
The article continues, "Until recently, Indonesia, the largest Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) state and the world's most populous Muslim nation, had taken a backseat in the grouping since being gripped by a 1997-1998 financial crisis that sparked leadership changes and democratic reforms.
"The US initiatives 'relate to the larger point about starting to lay the foundation for the second term (of the Bush administration) on relations with ASEAN,' Zoellick said. "
I regret losing my original post, but the content of the article is well worth reading. The US is expanding on its China containment policy.