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High-level diplomatic summit in southeast Asia aims to tackle global tensions

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Top officials from the United States, China, and Russia have converged at an East Asia summit hosted in Indonesia. The gathering, which includes US Vice President Kamala Harris, China’s Premier Li Qiang, and Russia’s Foreign Minister, marks a rare opportunity for direct, high-level diplomacy between these nations known for their geopolitical disputes.

The 18-nation summit unfolds at a crucial juncture, bringing the United States and China into close contact just a day after Premier Li Qiang cautioned major powers against escalating their differences into a “new Cold War.” This warning came ahead of the G20 summit, where Chinese President Xi Jinping was notably absent.

All eyes are on the interactions between officials from the world’s two largest economies as they seek to manage tensions that could reignite over various issues, including Taiwan, relations with Moscow, and competition for influence in the Pacific region.

Premier Li emphasized the importance of avoiding alliances, bloc confrontations, and a new Cold War in his address to regional leaders.

Vice President Harris also engaged with Southeast Asian leaders, stressing “the importance of upholding international law in the South China Sea.”

Thursday’s summit represents the first time top US and Russian officials have sat together at the same table in nearly two months, following condemnation from American and European officials over Russia’s ongoing Ukraine invasion during a July ministerial meeting.

Joining this diplomatic gathering are leaders like Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, Canada’s Justin Trudeau, and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, along with leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) bloc.

While this summit brings major players together, experts suggest its capacity to resolve regional and global disputes remains limited, with some viewing it as a platform for exchanging talking points. Earlier discussions in Jakarta primarily focused on strengthening alliances and engaging with the Southeast Asian bloc.

As the diplomatic proceedings unfold, all eyes are on the outcomes of this high-profile summit, which seeks to address pressing global issues amid a backdrop of complex geopolitical dynamics in the East Asia region.

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