WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Ed Markey (D-MA), Ranking Member and Chairman of the SFRC Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy, joined Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Jim Risch (R-ID), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in introducing a new Senate Resolution ahead of the U.S.-ASEAN Special Summit next week to welcome the Association of South East Asian Nations and to urge continued cooperation to advance mutual interests. In addition to calling on ASEAN to prioritize democracy, human rights, and good governance in light of concerning democratic backsliding occurring in Southeast Asia, the bipartisan resolution also urges its reaffirmed commitment to Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
“Ahead of the ASEAN Special Summit next week, I join my colleagues in reaffirming the commitment of the United States to strengthening our relationships with our friends in South East Asia. The U.S. has prodigious challenges in the region—including ensuring that the U.S., our partners in ASEAN, and our friends in the region have full access to the South China Sea as China continues to try to restrict access to these waters. I also hope that the Summit will lead to steps for strengthening a robust economic agenda for the U.S. and our ASEAN partners,” Senator Romney said.
“I am proud to be joined by my colleagues as we commend the Biden administration in organizing the upcoming U.S.-ASEAN Special Summit, which demonstrates our strength as a reliable and active partner in South East Asia and our commitment to ASEAN centrality,” Chairman Menendez said. “As a crucial opportunity for us to promote a free, open, peaceful, and prosperous Indo-Pacific, the Summit also provides an important opportunity for us to engage our ASEAN partners on issues ranging from maritime security to climate change to democratic backsliding and human rights concerns in the region, particularly by the Tatmadaw in Burma. Our collective success in maintaining stability, promoting economic growth, and advancing the rule of law remains rooted in our commitment to protect human rights and individuals’ fundamental dignity.”
“It is imperative we work with partners in Southeast Asia, particularly members of ASEAN, to uphold a free and open Indo-Pacific, especially as we all face aggressive and coercive actions by China,” said Ranking Member Risch. “Critical to this U.S.-ASEAN engagement is pursuing a strong economic agenda. That needs to be a priority for the United States. Our bipartisan resolution reaffirms Congress’ commitment to working closely with ASEAN, and I hope we can vote on it soon.”
“The United States’ continued partnership with ASEAN countries ensures that we remain united in our common goal of a free, open, peaceful, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region. To accomplish this goal, we must recommit ourselves to protecting human rights across Southeast Asia while simultaneously working together to push back against the rising tide of authoritarianism,” said Senator Markey. “From the coup in Burma to the human rights abuses in the Philippines to the democratic backsliding in countries like Cambodia, Vietnam, and Thailand, Southeast Asia is at the forefront of the fight for democratic freedoms. More than ever, democracy and human rights need to exist at the center of our foreign policy towards the region, both during this Summit and beyond. Together with our ASEAN partners, we can meet the shared challenges of combatting COVID-19, adapting to the unavoidable impacts of climate change while transitioning to a climate-friendly economy, and meeting mutual security challenges.”
A full copy of the resolution can be found here.