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house Bill H.R. 1632

Should the U.S. Have a Multi-Year Strategy for Engagement With Southeast Asia & ASEAN?

Argument in favor

The U.S. needs a comprehensive Southeast Asia policy to ensure that its regional interests are appropriately looked after. Identifying and tracking ongoing efforts to bolster U.S. allies in Southeast Asia as well as ASEAN is needed to craft appropriate policies and gauge their effectiveness.

jimK's Opinion
···
09/23/2019
We need long term strategic processes for most of our government‘ s goals in general. The South Pacific is a pending flash point for international economics, world trade, world alliances and world leadership. We have squandered years of developing trusted relationships and alliances without ever having a firm strategic plan that looked after our international interests. We currently have thrown much of that away by summarily abandoning our country’s world commitments and unplanned actions that are costing us both trade relations and allies. China is quickly taking advantage by stepping in to fill the voids left by our arrogant lack of leadership and astonishing abandonment of ally's. We have not even identified nor considered what strategic interests we need to have. For example, China has quietly bought up most of the world's mining rights to rare earth's which are critically needed for military and consumer electronics- and we did not even notice. China now manufactures something like 80% of the world's prescription medicines- and we didn't notice or care. China is openly building military's outposts in the South China sea on islands in waters that are contested by multiple nations- we noticed but never seemed to care. China has demonstrated quantum entanglement technology from ground to orbital satellites which will enable internationally transmitted undecipherable, incredibly secure communications- while our Navy is relying upon dropping bean-bags from helicopters for secure ship to ship communication. And there are a lot more things like these. We have been so preoccupied with undeclared wars that nobody noticed that any of this was going on. We had no strategy regarding our National interests, nor the inherent hazards of not even trying to keep up with the rapid growth and expansion of Southeast Asia- we were too busy carrying out police actions in undeclared wars. We need long term goals and strategies, we need to protect these long term goals from the ravages of an administration acting on unplanned whims without consideration of consequences. Southeast Asia is of particular concern.
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Carmine's Opinion
···
09/22/2019
The U.S. needs a comprehensive Southeast Asia policy to ensure that its regional interests are appropriately looked after. Identifying and tracking ongoing efforts to bolster U.S. allies in Southeast Asia as well as ASEAN is needed to craft appropriate policies and gauge their effectiveness Southeast Asian countries generate hundreds of thousands of American jobs and invest more in our economy than China and India combined. This bill will deepen U.S. engagement with our Southeast Asian partners by requiring the Administration to develop and communicate a coherent regional strategy that addresses all aspects of the partnership, from trade and humanitarian goals to diplomatic and security arrangements. Southeast Asian countries seek strong leadership from the United States as they try to maintain economic independence from China and defend their territorial claims in the South China Sea. To date, the U.S. has never articulated a comprehensive strategy for the Southeast Asian region. The Southeast Asia Strategy Act does just that by developing a coherent and clearly communicated regional strategy that addresses all aspects of our critical relationship with Southeast Asia and ASEAN. Congress is working with the Administration to communicate to our friends that the U.S. has their backs as they expand trade and development, secure their borders, strengthen human rights, and defend against Chinese aggression.
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Jennifer's Opinion
···
09/23/2019
The U.S. needs a comprehensive Southeast Asia policy to ensure that its regional interests are appropriately looked after. Identifying and tracking ongoing efforts to bolster U.S. allies in Southeast Asia as well as ASEAN is needed to craft appropriate policies and gauge their effectiveness.
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Argument opposed

This bill’s overreliance on ASEAN is naive, and could dangerously de-emphasize the importance of some Southeast Asian nations in U.S. foreign policy. It’s also worth considering that U.S. policy in Southeast Asia is inextricably linked to its broader Asian strategy, so it may not make sense to craft a Southeast Asian, versus a pan-Asian, foreign policy strategy.

burrkitty's Opinion
···
09/23/2019
This bill is putting the cart before the horse. Withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership collapsed the economic statecraft pillar of the re-balance strategy and removed the most potent Southeast Asia policy weapon from the U.S. arsenal. Until it forms a coherent trade policy, Washington could instead find ways to help U.S. companies invest and compete for infrastructure development projects in the region.
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Jeff's Opinion
···
09/24/2019
No. We cannot make these kind of decisions with this madman in power.
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David 's Opinion
···
09/23/2019
We had a Southeast Asian policy - it was linked to the Trans Pacific Partnership. Trump blew that one up early. Until the Trump Administration develops a policy to address Asia that includes Southeast Asia no efforts will work.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Foreign Relations
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Foreign Affairs
      Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation
    IntroducedMarch 7th, 2019

What is House Bill H.R. 1632?

This bill — the Southeast Asia Strategy Act — would direct the State Dept. to submit a multi-year strategy for engagement with Southeast Asia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to Congress. It would also be required to update the strategy for the next four years following the initial strategy’s submission.

The strategy would include: 

  • An identification of enduring U.S. interests in South East Asia and efforts to bolster ASEAN’s effectiveness as an independent and unified regional leader. 
  • An identification of 1) the future of Southeast Asian alliances, partnerships, and multilateral engagements, including efforts to expand security interoperability and economic connectivity and build networks of allies and partnerships with other U.S. partners in the Indo-Pacific region and 2) partners outside ASEAN supporting U.S. interests in Southeast Asia. 
  • A list of ongoing and planned initiatives and programs to strengthen the United States’ partnerships with ASEAN and Southeast Asian countries on trade, investment, energy, and economic and political diplomacy.
  • A list of ongoing and planned initiatives and programs to strengthen the United States’ partnerships with ASEAN and Southeast Asian countries through development and capacity building, including efforts to improve the environment for private sector-led economic development, public-private partnerships, infrastructure development, development of the digital economy and technology, and other initiatives relating to education, disaster management, and public health. 
  • An assessment of ongoing and planned initiatives to directly assist Southeast Asian countries and ASEAN in developing institutional capabilities, including with respect to enforcing international law and sanctions, and initiatives to cooperate with ASEAN as an institution in these areas. 
  • An assessment of ongoing and planned efforts to promote human rights and democracy and strengthen the rule of law, civil society, and government transparency in Southeast Asian countries.
  • An assessment of ongoing and planned efforts to protect election security and personal data from cyber threats.
  • An assessment of ongoing and planned security cooperation, assistance, and training initiatives within Southeast Asian countries, including 1) on maritime security and political initiatives for protecting maritime commons and supporting international law and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea; 2) to combat terrorism, human trafficking, piracy, and illegal fishing; and 3) to promote more open, reliable trade routes.
  • An assessment of ongoing and planned funding for relevant U.S. government departments and agencies on initiatives to implement the strategy.

Additionally, this bill would state that it’s U.S. policy to coordinate closely with ASEAN and its member states in the interest of promoting peace, security, and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. It would also affirm the importance of ASEAN centrality.

Impact

State Dept; Congress; U.S. foreign policy with regard to Southeast Asia; Southeast Asia; U.S. policy with regard to ASEAN; and ASEAN.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 1632

The CBO estimates that satisfying this bill’s reporting requirements would cost less than $500,000 in 2020 and over the 2019-2024 period.

More Information

In-DepthRep. Ann Wagner (R-MO) introduced this bill to require the State Dept. to develop and submit a comprehensive strategy on Southeast Asia and ASEAN to Congress. After this bill unanimously passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee in June 2019, Rep. Wagner said in a Facebook post

“Southeast Asian countries generate hundreds of thousands of American jobs and invest more in our economy than China and India combined. This bill will deepen U.S. engagement with our Southeast Asian partners by requiring the Administration to develop and communicate a coherent regional strategy that addresses all aspects of the partnership, from trade and humanitarian goals to diplomatic and security arrangements. Southeast Asian countries seek strong leadership from the United States as they try to maintain economic independence from China and defend their territorial claims in the South China Sea.”

When she introduced this bill in the 115th Congress, Rep. Wagner said in a press release:

“To date, the U.S. has never articulated a comprehensive strategy for the Southeast Asian region. The Southeast Asia Strategy Act does just that by developing a coherent and clearly communicated regional strategy that addresses all aspects of our critical relationship with Southeast Asia and ASEAN. Congress is working with the Administration to communicate to our friends that the U.S. has their backs as they expand trade and development, secure their borders, strengthen human rights, and defend against Chinese aggression.”

This legislation has passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee by voice vote with the support of eight bipartisan cosponsors, including five Republicans and three Democrats. Last Congress, it had one cosponsor, Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX), and didn’t receive a committee vote.


Of NoteAdam Fields, a U.S. Foreign Service Officer, contends that the U.S. should craft a Southeast Asia policy with two goals: first, to ensure Southeast Asian countries can protect their autonomy, identity and sovereignty, and second, to ensure that the U.S. can compete with China for influence in the economic, ideological, cultural, and political realms. However, unlike the approach espoused in this bill, Fields argues that the proper Southeast Asia strategy isn’t about either dominating the region or balancing against China. 

Instead, Fields argues, the U.S. should help ensure Southeast Asian countries should remain strong, independent, and prosperous. Fields argues that promoting American values — specifically those of individual freedom, representative government, personal security, economic liberty, and equality — should be the U.S. goal in the region.

Fields also warns against overemphasizing ASEAN’s importance (which this bill arguably could do) at the cost of de-emphasizing individual states’ importance. He writes: 

“While the United States should participate in meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at the highest level, overemphasizing the importance of ASEAN centrality and placing the burden on ASEAN to solve difficult regional issues discounts the enduring importance of the state itself. It also allows China to claim inconsequential victories when ASEAN is divided. It is true that ASEAN has created important rules and norms of behavior that have enmeshed both China and the United States in a Southeast Asian-led regional security architecture. However, while institutional rules and norms produce important compliance effects—breaking them leads to reputational costs at the very least—they are only useful when states choose to respect and follow them. Investing time and money ensuring Southeast Asian states are strong, prosperous, and independent will reap more enduring foreign policy successes than over-reliance on an important, but shaky, multilateral institution.”


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / yorkfoto)

AKA

Southeast Asia Strategy Act

Official Title

To require a strategy for engagement with Southeast Asia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

    We need long term strategic processes for most of our government‘ s goals in general. The South Pacific is a pending flash point for international economics, world trade, world alliances and world leadership. We have squandered years of developing trusted relationships and alliances without ever having a firm strategic plan that looked after our international interests. We currently have thrown much of that away by summarily abandoning our country’s world commitments and unplanned actions that are costing us both trade relations and allies. China is quickly taking advantage by stepping in to fill the voids left by our arrogant lack of leadership and astonishing abandonment of ally's. We have not even identified nor considered what strategic interests we need to have. For example, China has quietly bought up most of the world's mining rights to rare earth's which are critically needed for military and consumer electronics- and we did not even notice. China now manufactures something like 80% of the world's prescription medicines- and we didn't notice or care. China is openly building military's outposts in the South China sea on islands in waters that are contested by multiple nations- we noticed but never seemed to care. China has demonstrated quantum entanglement technology from ground to orbital satellites which will enable internationally transmitted undecipherable, incredibly secure communications- while our Navy is relying upon dropping bean-bags from helicopters for secure ship to ship communication. And there are a lot more things like these. We have been so preoccupied with undeclared wars that nobody noticed that any of this was going on. We had no strategy regarding our National interests, nor the inherent hazards of not even trying to keep up with the rapid growth and expansion of Southeast Asia- we were too busy carrying out police actions in undeclared wars. We need long term goals and strategies, we need to protect these long term goals from the ravages of an administration acting on unplanned whims without consideration of consequences. Southeast Asia is of particular concern.
    Like (18)
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    This bill is putting the cart before the horse. Withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership collapsed the economic statecraft pillar of the re-balance strategy and removed the most potent Southeast Asia policy weapon from the U.S. arsenal. Until it forms a coherent trade policy, Washington could instead find ways to help U.S. companies invest and compete for infrastructure development projects in the region.
    Like (7)
    Follow
    Share
    The U.S. needs a comprehensive Southeast Asia policy to ensure that its regional interests are appropriately looked after. Identifying and tracking ongoing efforts to bolster U.S. allies in Southeast Asia as well as ASEAN is needed to craft appropriate policies and gauge their effectiveness Southeast Asian countries generate hundreds of thousands of American jobs and invest more in our economy than China and India combined. This bill will deepen U.S. engagement with our Southeast Asian partners by requiring the Administration to develop and communicate a coherent regional strategy that addresses all aspects of the partnership, from trade and humanitarian goals to diplomatic and security arrangements. Southeast Asian countries seek strong leadership from the United States as they try to maintain economic independence from China and defend their territorial claims in the South China Sea. To date, the U.S. has never articulated a comprehensive strategy for the Southeast Asian region. The Southeast Asia Strategy Act does just that by developing a coherent and clearly communicated regional strategy that addresses all aspects of our critical relationship with Southeast Asia and ASEAN. Congress is working with the Administration to communicate to our friends that the U.S. has their backs as they expand trade and development, secure their borders, strengthen human rights, and defend against Chinese aggression.
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    What Jim said!!!👍👍👍
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    We had a Southeast Asian policy - it was linked to the Trans Pacific Partnership. Trump blew that one up early. Until the Trump Administration develops a policy to address Asia that includes Southeast Asia no efforts will work.
    Like (1)
    Follow
    Share
    No. We cannot make these kind of decisions with this madman in power.
    Like (1)
    Follow
    Share
    The U.S. needs a comprehensive Southeast Asia policy to ensure that its regional interests are appropriately looked after. Identifying and tracking ongoing efforts to bolster U.S. allies in Southeast Asia as well as ASEAN is needed to craft appropriate policies and gauge their effectiveness.
    Like (1)
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    I DON'T USUSALLY SIDE WITH A BILL BROUGHT FORTH BY A REPUBLICAN, BUT WHEN THE BILL IS FOR PLANNING A STRATEGY, WHICH TRUMP NEVER DOES, AND INCLUDES HUMAN RIGHTS AND ELECTION PROTECTION, THEN I HAVE TO ADMIT IT LOOKS GOOD TO ME.
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    We have to work with our allies in Southeast Asia. By having a long term goal this will make us safer and have stability.
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    Sexual Predator: Accused by more than 20 women of molestation and rape. Bragged about said molestation on tape. Has cheated on all three wives (see above). Has made sexual remarks on camera about his daughter. Belittles and bully’s strong women. Not even sure he’s aware he has two daughters.
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    China is slowly and expertly annexing and expanding their COMMUNIST influences. Get a handle on it now or we lose.
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    The United States has been searching for a multi-year strategy in Asia (Southeast Asia in particular) for more than 100 years. We have yet to come up with a coherent plan.
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