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America is driving Southeast Asia into the arms of China and it is harmful

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The three of us not too long ago traveled midway world wide to higher study U.S. pursuits and financial pathways in a area that has garnered vital consideration within the information recently. 

Assembly and dealing with authorities and enterprise leaders in Southeast Asia introduced us face-to-face with a stark actuality: U.S. affect has been eroded in part of the world the place we have been as soon as poised to carry sway, and China has moved in to play an more and more dominant function. This should change.

FILE – China’s President Xi Jinping greets the media previous to a gathering of leaders of the BRICS rising economies on the Itamaraty palace in Brasilia, Brazil, on Nov. 14, 2019. 
(AP Picture/Pavel Golovkin, Pool, File)

Southeast Asia is various. The nations vary from extremely developed Singapore to quickly creating Cambodia to deeply troubled Myanmar. Laos and Vietnam haven’t shed the vestiges of authoritarianism remaining from their communist days, and Thailand as soon as once more has fallen into useful army rule.


Whereas we loved a productive go to to Singapore, a lot of our focus was on Cambodia. These are two very totally different international locations that delivered to us a constant message: China is outmaneuvering the USA on this area with investments, loans, commerce and exchanges. That is China’s yard. It has pure benefits of geography, historical past and tradition, and it has been cultivating this area for a few years.

Our first impression was the individuals of Cambodia – their heat, sincerity, and want to advance on the world stage. The leaders in these international locations advised us they like a stronger American presence, which they see as a mandatory counterweight to China. 


They respect and admire the USA. They comply with developments in the USA. They ship their youngsters to check in the USA. They like the way in which American corporations do enterprise. Nevertheless, in addition they advised us that they’ll settle for funding and commerce from whomever provides it on favorable phrases. Our allies within the area—together with Japan, South Korea and Australia—are investing and buying and selling there, however they can’t carry our pursuits.

The US has many pursuits on this important area, they usually aren’t all financial. We wish to foster higher freedom and openness, each usually precept and as a barrier in opposition to Chinese language Marxist-Leninist affect. Vietnam and Laos have but to maneuver away from their communist previous. 


Cambodia is rising as a brand new nation and is advancing quickly. Over the previous 30 years, it has rebuilt its society from the bottom up after the heartless genocide of their inhabitants.

The US should work with these international locations over the long run to develop and strengthen financial and political ties and to foster frequent values. Commerce and funding open the door for higher affect and American democratic values that may translate into higher freedom and prosperity for them.


There are various alternatives for American enterprise in Cambodia, together with building, manufacturing, meals processing and different endeavors. We’re geared up to fulfill Cambodia’s demand for power, significantly cleaner era supplied by LNG and hydropower.

FILE – Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (R) (D-CA) accompanies Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (L) at the U.S. Capitol March 30, 2022 in Washington, D.C. Lee, who met with U.S. President Joe Biden on March 29 traveled to Washington for a series of meetings with members of the U.S. government. 

FILE – Speaker of the Home Nancy Pelosi (R) (D-CA) accompanies Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (L) on the U.S. Capitol March 30, 2022 in Washington, D.C. Lee, who met with U.S. President Joe Biden on March 29 traveled to Washington for a sequence of conferences with members of the U.S. authorities. 
((Picture by Win McNamee/Getty Pictures))

Cambodia is seeking to take its place amongst superior creating international locations. Extra commerce and funding will result in prosperity and a higher likelihood to foster the sorts of freedoms which have been the premise of our strongest alliances for many years. 

We are able to take a number of steps to start out transferring alongside this path. First, we have to reauthorize the importation of a broad vary of certified items underneath the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP). That is important to opening the U.S. market to international locations within the Asia-Pacific area. Cambodia wants higher entry to markets within the U.S., its second-largest buying and selling companion.

The U.S. ought to transfer rapidly to incorporate Cambodia within the Indo-Pacific Financial Framework for Prosperity (IPEF). 


This can tie it extra intently to us and our most necessary allies and creating nation companions within the Asia-Pacific area. IPEF generally is a launch level for the USA to reenter the Complete and Progressive Settlement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, which options high-standards commerce and market entry chapters. 

Sadly the Biden administration has a moratorium on new commerce offers and the Indo-Pacific Financial Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) is a pipe dream except the administration acknowledges the function that Congress performs in setting commerce coverage.

We have now the means to make Southeast Asia a key partnership area. This can result in the enlargement and adoption of U.S. values, together with the rule of regulation, human rights, and upward financial mobility. 


Free and truthful commerce, when executed effectively, can elevate individuals out of poverty and supply financial advantages for all international locations concerned. The U.S. can now not afford to retreat from the worldwide stage.

A transparent presence within the coronary heart of the Indo-Pacific will guarantee U.S. pursuits are effectively positioned into the twenty first Century.  

Republican Beth VanDuye represents Texas twenty fourth congressional district within the U.S. Home of Representatives.
Republican Ron Estes represents Kansas’ 4th congressional district within the U.S. Home of Representatives.

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