Delhi, Hanoi, but not Jakarta. U.S. President Joe Biden is skipping the Association of Southeast Asian Nations meeting this week and sending Vice President Kamala Harris instead. The optics aren’t great, especially as Biden is going to be in the region: He’s traveling to Delhi for the Group of 20 summit and Hanoi right after.
No matter what anyone says, getting the consolation prize is never fun. And that is what it must feel like for Indonesia, the host of the ASEAN gathering. Not only is Biden not attending, he is snubbing a major regional power — and given that the U.S. has consistently said it wants to build a stronger relationship with Asia, it feels a little like an own goal.
Ultimately, though, actions speak louder than words. And when someone shows you who they are in a relationship, believe them. The harsh reality is that some Asian countries are simply more important to the U.S. than others.