PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – President Joe Biden sought to win friends and influence Southeast Asian nations as he ratcheted up efforts to isolate Russia and tame China during a weekend visit to Cambodia.
Biden hosted countries in the region at the White House in May and emphasized his administration’s desire to build stronger relations in remarks at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ annual summit.
Past administrations have been criticized for being absent from the gathering that China’s Xi Jinping has attended in the past but won’t attend this year. He’ll be in Bali at the Group of 20 Summit, where he plans to meet Biden, and at APEC, which Vice President Kamala Harris is attending, later in the week.
Xi’s absence in Cambodia presented an opportunity for Biden to convince countries that their economies would suffer greatly if China causes supply chain disruptions by invading Taiwan.
Biden meets on Monday in Bali with Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who is hosting this year’s G-20 Summit.
Most of the attention will be on Biden’s second meeting of the day, though, with China’s Xi prior to the start of the summit. The meeting with the Chinese leader was months in the making; it’s the first time the two presidents will have seen each other in person since Biden took office.
Building better relations with Southeast Asian nations is one of Biden’s top national security concerns.
His administration calls the approach “friendshoring.” It’s intended to help the U.S. form stronger alliances with nations that can help discourage China from taking military action against Taiwan. 
Nearly half of the world’s container fleet passes through Taiwan each year. A conflict could lead to shipping delays, trigger shortages in the United States of electronics and appliances, and trigger a global economic crisis.
A military dictatorship overthrew the Myanmar government last year in a coup. Conditions have rapidly deteriorated, as the military junta in charge tries to stifle dissent. ASEAN leaders have sought to implement a five-point peace plan in Myanmar that the junta agreed to initially but has shown little interest in implementing.
The leaders of the 10 countries that make up ASEAN – minus Myanmar, which also goes by Burma – met Sunday with government officials from Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Russia and the U.S. to discuss the situation.
Biden was among the leaders who “highlighted the importance of taking further action to increase pressure on the Burmese military regime” to release political prisoners, abide by a peace plan and recommit to democracy, the White House said.
Overview of Biden’s trip:Is Biden ready for G-20 sparring session? Foreign rivals, tensions await president in Bali.
What he said at COP27:Biden takes climate victory lap in Egypt. To some countries, US is doing too little, too late.
Catch up on Biden’s trip to Asia: On whirlwind trip across the globe, Biden addresses climate change, heads to Asia to meet with heads of state

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