‘US, Russia join Asia club in blow to China’
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Last Updated: Friday, October 29, 2010, 17:14
Hanoi: The United States and Russia will be formally welcomed into a 16-nation Asian bloc on Saturday, in what analysts say, is a blow to Chinese attempts to diminish US influence in the region.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will be invited to join the East Asia Summit when the group holds its annual summit in Hanoi on Saturday.

Their entry into the EAS, which elevates its diplomatic heft, comes despite Chinese attempts to promote another grouping, which does not include the US, as the region's premier forum for regional cooperation.

"China will be very uneasy", said John Lee, a China expert at Australia's Centre for Independent Studies think-tank.

"This all points to a significant blow to China's broader competitive strategy in Asia, which is designed to gradually ease America out of the region in the longer term," he said.

Established in 2005, the EAS is a forum for dialogue on strategic, political and economic issues involving the 10 ASEAN members as well as Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.

US membership "is part of the American strategic 'coming back' to Southeast Asia, to balance China's growing influence in Southeast Asia," said Li Mingjian from the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.

Russia's admittance to the EAS club is much less controversial, with analysts saying its importance lies in energy exports and acting as a deterrent, to Sino-American rivalry dominating the bloc.

Russia and the US will officially join the EAS at the next meeting in Indonesia in 2011, enabling US President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev to attend as full members that year.


First Published: Friday, October 29, 2010, 17:14

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