Trump and Xi Skip Singapore Summit, but Battle for Regional Influence Continues

Trump and Xi Skip Singapore Summit, but Battle for Regional Influence Continues
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, fifth from left, poses for a group photo with ASEAN leaders prior to the start of the ASEAN Plus China Summit in the ongoing 33rd ASEAN Summit and Related Summits, Singapore, Nov. 14, 2018 (AP photo by Bullit Marquez).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China.

Leaders from across the Asia-Pacific region are in Singapore this week to kick off a series of summit meetings. In the absence of any major breakthroughs on trade or security, the focus is on the competition for influence between the United States and China—a narrative driven by dueling op-eds from U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

“Our nation’s security and prosperity depend on this vital region, and the United States will continue to ensure that all nations, large and small, can thrive and prosper in a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Pence wrote in The Washington Post on Friday. “Nations that oppress their people often violate their neighbors’ sovereignty as well. Authoritarianism and aggression have no place in the Indo-Pacific region,” he added, in what was surely an implicit shot at China.

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