The US and 10 Southeast Asian states will hold their first-ever joint maritime exercises in September, aimed at preventing "wrongdoing" as Washington and Beijing jostle for influence in the region. Washington has traditionally been the dominant naval power in Southeast Asia and its re-engagement with the area comes as a deteriorating trade war with China threatens to engulf the global economy. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attended a regional summit earlier this month with the 10-country Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in a bid to promote the Trump administration's so-called "Indo-Pacific" strategy. Also a source of friction is China's expansive claims to the South China Sea, as the resource-rich waters contain some of the world's most vital commercial shipping lanes.
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