BANGKOK – Singapore was gearing up on Sunday to host the 33rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit with preparatory meetings under the shadow of a trade war between the United States and China, as well as a humanitarian crisis involving the Rohingyas.
The upcoming summit of ASEAN leaders, which is set to be held on Tuesday and Wednesday, will include the presidents and prime ministers of 10 member countries: Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines.
Thursday’s agenda will include meetings involving leaders from other countries such as the US, China, Russia, Japan and South Korea, among others.
It still remains unclear whether Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang and US Vice President Mike Pence, who is scheduled to attend the summit in place of President Donald Trump, will hold a bilateral meet in light of the trade war between them that has affected markets across the world.
Myanmar’s de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, will attend the summit from Monday onwards, amid the Rohingya crisis in her country, in which 725,000 people of the Muslim minority have fled the country to neighboring Bangladesh since August 2017 to escape what has been described as an ethnic cleansing campaign carried out by elements within the country’s army and various paramilitary groups.
The summit will coincide with the beginning of the repatriation of 2,260 Rohingya refugees that was agreed between Dhaka and Naypyidaw amid criticism of the ongoing systematic persecution of the Muslim community in Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine.
Chile and Canada are also set to take part the summit as guest countries.