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International relations

China tightens ASEAN grip while US looks inward

Beijing fills diplomatic void left by America's chaotic presidential transition

China is expanding its sway over Southeast Asia during the latest ASEAN summit, seeing an opening in U.S. absence. (Photo courtesy of the ASEAN Secretariat/Kusuma Pandu WIjay)

HANOI/BEIJING -- China has moved to expand its influence in Southeast Asia as the U.S. remains absent from the diplomatic stage, touting the birth of a major economic bloc and promising priority access to coronavirus vaccines in the ASEAN summit.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday addressed the leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations via monitors at the summit, calling the region China's largest trading partner.

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