The US often stresses the need to uphold the rules-based international order, but its recent moves towards giving priority to developing the domestic economy and manufacturing within the US might mean that the advocate of the rules may be guilty of undermining them.
The Group of 7 are relatively aligned in their perceptions of global challenges, particularly when it comes to strategic competitors such as China and Russia, but the same perceptions do not hold true when it comes to the remaining members of the bigger Group of 20.
Washington’s new National Security Strategy has been carefully crafted, but the document hosts a number of inherent tensions. Foremost among them is the fact that putting democracy at the center of a strategy that is increasingly Asia-focused is ill-advised.
Following years of neglect under the Trump administration, the Biden administration will need to get both its words and actions right to rebuild trust in the US in Southeast Asia. And one of the fundamentals of building a good relationship is to genuinely listen and respond to Southeast Asians about their interests and priorities, rather than just treating them as tools to counter China's influence.