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
"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,"
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