Within this strategy, Southeast Asia is considered to be a subregion of particular interest. Through a well-conceived charm offensive, which began in the late 1990s when it provided assistance to countries suffering from the Asian financial crisis, China assiduously courted ASEAN and improved bilateral relations with key members.
With the “dynamic equilibrium” ideology in mind, and to complete the circle of powers within the EAS, Jakarta also strongly pushed for widening membership to include the United States and Russia.
Indonesia thus warmly welcomed the Obama administration’s decision to rebalance U. policy toward Asia and give higher priority to relations with ASEAN, signified in part by Washington’s accession to the TAC.
During the same period, China’s membership in the ASEAN 3 (China, Japan, and South Korea), the EAS, and APEC allowed Chinese leaders to strengthen newly forged ties with neighboring countries through more frequent meetings at the top level. involvement gave East Asian countries a rare window of opportunity to develop a new set of relationships among themselves, particularly for managing China’s rise in a more inclusive way.
Notwithstanding the fact that the United States was never truly absent from Southeast Asia—as indicated by its continued close bilateral relations with most ASEAN member states, ongoing commitment to its regional allies, and overwhelming maritime military presence—the perception that the U. role in regional affairs was declining as China’s was ascending cannot be easily dismissed. It also enabled ASEAN to take a leading role in fostering regional mechanisms aimed at promoting peace, stability, and prosperity by engaging richer and more powerful countries, including China, in regional architectures.