As major powers meet in Asia, the rest of the world is pressed to pick a side | CNN

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world leader Gathering in Phnom Penh This weekend is at a series of international summits in Southeast Asia in the coming weeks, where divisions between major powers and conflict are feared to overshadow the talks.

The first stop is the Cambodian capital where leaders from across the Indo-Pacific will meet with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders’ summit, followed by the Group of 20 (G20) leaders’ meeting in Bali next week. Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum in Bangkok.

There will be a diplomatic line-up composed of international hunger tests for coordination on similar issues Climate change, Global Inflation And after that food prices increased Russia invades Ukraineand economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic – and for the first time since the outbreak began in 2020, all three events are being held individually.

As the war in Ukraine radically alters Russia’s relationship with the West, the political calendar features a sharp geopolitical divide of a kind not seen in decades, with the two leading global economies, the US and China, locked in fierce competition and the rest of the world pressed to choose a side.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin will or will not Make any appearance Diplomatic dates remain uncertain during the stretch. US President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping are both expected to attend the two summits in Southeast Asia – a region that has long been ground zero for influence-jockeying between Beijing and Washington.

Xi is re-emerging on the world stage after years without travel during the pandemic, he said Norm breaking third term While in power, Biden has been turning east due to his party’s better-than-expected performance in the US midterm elections. Both will be expected to play their country as a stronger partner and a more responsible global actor than others.

Both will do Meet face to face On the sidelines of the G20 on Monday, Biden’s first in-person meeting since his election, the White House said Thursday. Beijing confirmed Xi’s travel plans for the G20 and APEC summits on Friday and said he would hold bilateral meetings with Biden and several other leaders.

Discussions between the two can help prevent escalation of tensions between the powers. But for leaders meeting during a string of summits in the coming days, forging a strong deal to tackle global issues – already a tough bargain at the best of times – will be a challenge.

Even among regional meetings, the ASEAN summit of Southeast Asian leaders – which opened in Phnom Penh on Friday and is designed to strengthen regional stability as well as address global challenges – will reflect fractious global politics, experts say.

But like other major meetings focused more on the fallout from the war in Ukraine, ASEAN leaders are entering this weekend’s summit and related meetings under pressure to resolve the escalating conflict within their own bloc: After nearly two years of unrest and military rule in Myanmar, a A brutal coup A democratically elected government was overthrown.

Differences among Southeast Asian countries over how to handle that conflict, their conflicting loyalties with major powers — and reluctance to side with the US and China — will all affect how much the group can agree on. And what it can achieve beyond the summits, experts say.

“In general this season will be very exciting – you have three major world summits in Southeast Asia – Phnom Penh, Bali and Bangkok,” said Thitinan Pongsudhirak, director of the Institute of Security and International Studies at Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Political Science in Bangkok.

“But (ASEAN) is very divided over Russian aggression, the Myanmar coup crisis, China’s belligerence in the South China Sea and so on, and that means ASEAN is in a bad position,” he said.

In the United Nations Poll last monthSeven of the 10 ASEAN countries, including a representative from Myanmar, which does not back the ruling military, voted to condemn Russia’s annexation of four regions from Ukraine, while Thailand, Laos and Vietnam abstained.

But this week’s events have seen ASEAN as a group take a step closer to deepening ties with Kiev, Signing of Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation Ukraine with Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Thursday in Phnom Penh.

The bloc aims to use consensus among its states when it brings major global players to the table, for example at its Near East Asia Summit, which brings together 18 Indo-Pacific countries, including Russia, China and the United States. See you this weekend.

“If ASEAN cannot get its house in order, if ASEAN cannot rein in a rogue member like Myanmar’s military regime, ASEAN will lose its relevance,” Pongsudhirak said. “On the other hand, if ASEAN is united, if it can muster commitment and resolve … it can have a lot of pulling power.”

Nearly two years after a military coup crushed Myanmar’s fledgling democracy, rights groups and observers say the country is enjoying freedom and rights. Deteriorated rapidly; State enforcement have returned and the number of documented violent attacks by ruling military forces on civilian infrastructure, including schools, has increased.

Several armed rebel groups have emerged against the ruling military junta, while millions have resisted its rule through forms of civil disobedience.

A weekend summit in Phnom Penh will draw the conflict back into international focus as Southeast Asian leaders try to find a way forward after Myanmar’s ruling junta failed to implement a peace plan negotiated in April last year. Despite calls from rights groups to pull out, the country remains part of ASEAN, but is barred from sending political-level representatives to important events.

Protesters set up temporary barricades to block a road and stand guard during a March 2021 demonstration against a military coup in Yangon, Myanmar.

Asean foreign ministers last tried to formulate a strategy late last month, with Cambodian Foreign Minister Prak Sokhon, who chaired the meeting, later stressing in a statement that the challenges lie beneath “Myanmar’s decades of complexity and difficulty”. A long protracted conflict, which has been exacerbated by the current political crisis.

But with Cambodia chairing the bloc, observers have low expectations for a hard line and are looking ahead to next year when Indonesia takes over the leadership in 2023.

Addressing the “ongoing crisis” will be the focus of Biden’s talks with Southeast Asian leaders as he attends the ASEAN summit later in the week, the White House said on Tuesday. Since the coup, the Biden administration has launched targeted sanctions against the military regime and held meetings with the opposition Government of National Unity.

China, on the other hand, has shown support for the ruling military junta and is unlikely to support tougher action, observers say. A A month long investigation A report on the situation in Myanmar issued by an international coalition of lawmakers last month accused Russia and China of “providing both arms and legitimacy to an otherwise isolated government.”

According to political scientist Chong Jae Ian, associate professor at the National University of Singapore, that could also affect results later this week.

“Because of Russian and (Chinese) support for the junta, any attempt at a settlement by ASEAN will require some form of engagement with them, whether it’s to get buy-in or even non-confrontation,” Chong said.

The crisis in Myanmar is not the only area where the US and China could split at the ASEAN summit, with issues such as China’s aggression in the South China Sea – where Beijing asserts territorial claims that conflict with many Southeast Asian countries – likely. Less important this year.

ASEAN will hold regular side summits with both the US and China, as well as other countries, and China’s number two leader, economy-focused Premier Li Keqiang Xi, arrived earlier this week as a representative.

As Southeast Asian leaders seek to shore up their economic stability, they will be concerned about the effects of US-China competition on the region, its trade and supply chains, for example. US export According to Chong, on semi-carriers to China.

“ASEAN states are going to try to find some way to navigate all this and see what kind of concessions they can make to both Beijing and Washington,” he said.

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