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.