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Biden’s SE Asia policy ‘pivots’ to anti-corruption

On December 9, Washington published its first-ever Strategy on Countering Corruption, a document that at first glance appears to be a mere bureaucratic repackaging of existing ideas. 

“Corruption threatens United States national security, economic equity, global anti-poverty and development efforts, and democracy itself,” US President Joe Biden wrote in a National Security Study Memorandum in June, which started the administrative review culminating in December’s report. 

“But by effectively preventing and countering corruption and demonstrating the advantages of transparent and accountable governance,” Biden added, “we can secure a critical advantage for the United States and other democracies.”

For sure, little of this is revolutionary thinking. Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia Division, says it’s hard to see how anyone could separate corruption and rights abuses.