The East Asia Summit
The East Asia Summit is a forum held annually by leaders of, initially, 16 countries in the East Asian region. Membership will expand to 18 countries including the United States and Russia at the Sixth EAS in 2011. EAS meetings are held after annual ASEAN leaders’ meetings...
is a nominally annual meeting of national leaders from the East Asian region and adjoining countries. The Sixth East Asia Summit
will be chaired by Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...
President Obama made his inaugural visit to the sixth East Asia summit underlining the United States returned focus on the Asia Pacific region despite congressional budgetary constraints and cutbacks. This included expanded military presence in northern Australia which has neighbouring countries like Indonesia and China weary. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will make an official trip to Myanmar in more than 50 years.
US military training in northern Australia
Prime Minister Gillard held discussions with Indonesia's president President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono about United States military training hub in Darwin was not targeted any particular country and was there to help with disaster recovery and strengthen longstanding defence ties with the United States through ANZUS
The Australia, New Zealand, United States Security Treaty is the military alliance which binds Australia and New Zealand and, separately, Australia and the United States to cooperate on defence matters in the Pacific Ocean area, though today the treaty is understood to relate to attacks...
which is over 60 years old. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono also relayed to Australian Prime Minister Gillard, the defence exercises should involve ASEAN countries and also China to reduce tension and build trust.
The Australian Prime Minister has also held talks with Chinese Premier Wen to reduce concerns about the defence arrangement. She reiterated Australia always will have an ally in Washington and a friend in Beijing.
Regional maritime dispute
The United States has stated it supported multilateral talks on a regional basis to ensure disputes in the South China Sea
The South China Sea is a marginal sea that is part of the Pacific Ocean, encompassing an area from the Singapore and Malacca Straits to the Strait of Taiwan of around...
is resolved peacefully even though its is not a party to any territorial dispute and claims to be not taking any sides. China reinforced its view the maritime dispute should be resolved bilaterally with all the countries involved rather than involving external forces which they see as interference and added layer of complexity. China sees the United State bringing the territorial dispute in the summit as a containment policy to counter China's growing economic and political influence within the region. China has continued to emphasize its peaceful rise and endeavors to work with neighbouring countries to reach agreements on maritime disputes.
The concerns of smaller countries about the growing influence of its northern neighbour has allowed the United States to become more involved in the region and coincide with some of their interests to counterbalance China. This also has the effect of countries having stronger individual voices to negotiate with China.
President Obama has said he is dispatching Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Myanmar in the next few weeks to engage in dialogue about better ties with the United States. The Burmese government is civilian run since March 2011. The United States stressed China was advised of the visit and not replacing Myanmar's strong ties with China. They also stated China would want to see a stable Burma adjacent to its border and reduce risk such as political instability and refugees. China is a longstanding supporter of resource rich Myanmar and has provided financial and investment support. The Burmese government has reacted they will continue on the path of opening up through relaxing political restrictions and releasing political prisoners.
Myanmar has been chosen as host of the ASEAN summit to be held in 2014 despite concerns from human rights groups the reforms are not enough. Other countries have stated granting the chairing of the ASEAN conference will encourage the Myanmar civilian government to continue the pace of change in the country which has been economically and politically isolated by embargo and restrictions.