China is not yet an economic behemoth in ASEAN, given that it’s s more of a trade power than a major foreign investor in the region. But the day may not be so far away when ASEAN countries find China’s clout to be much bigger – and a more potent geopolitical tool in areas like the South China Sea disputes – if they do not diversify their economic ties, writes Johanna Son for the Reporting ASEAN series.
More than 20 years after Vietnam joined ASEAN, ASEAN’s work and impact have not seen much in-depth coverage – or media interest – in the country. Nguyen Ngoc Tran looks into why this is so in this commentary for Reporting ASEAN.
The Philippines’ chairmanship of ASEAN during the organisation’s 50th year has been a bumpy road, Walden Bello points out this Reporting ASEAN commentary. The year has been marked by Malaysia’s breaking of the ASEAN consensus habit in the ASEAN chair’s statement on Rakhine state, the Philippines’ failure to push the social-protection mechanisms it listed as deliverables, and the Duterte government’s giving China a free pass in the South China Sea.
Laos has been more diplomatically adept than Cambodia at balancing ties with China with those of other countries. But while both are undoubtedly dancing with China, the social, economic and developmental cost of this dance remains to be seen in the coming years, says Johanna Son of Reporting ASEAN in this analysis.
Since China has suffered a “century of humiliation” from the imperial powers, it should understand that ASEAN states, too, can suffer similar “humiliation” from China, Bo Yuan writes in this commentary. In fact, its behaviour in the South China Sea tells ASEAN countries that China sees them as “tributaries” – akin to those during the Imperial China era – that must kowtow to the Middle Kingdom’s supremacy.
At 50 years old, ASEAN has a lot of work to do to boost its internal strength, making itself more of a middle power through concrete steps that include implementing its own agreements, reviewing its currency basket, giving national treatment to its own investors – and beefing up its own security discussion forums. Johanna Son of Reporting ASEAN explains more.
ASEAN is basking in its 50-year glory, but this milestone has also shown how it is, in a sense, its own weak spot. The challenge from within ASEAN itself is its refusal or inability to fix itself from within so that it is solid enough to stave off divisions caused by the presence or absence of external powers, whether it be China, or the United States, explains Johanna Son.
When history is written one day of how a country called the Philippines dealt with China, would it make for a legend about how it smartly navigated geopolitical waters to assert its territorial and economic rights – or a case study in how to bend over backwards and cede these to its giant neighbour to the […]
As ASEAN reaches the 50-year mark, it should free itself from the old confines of navigating between the big powers and build its muscle as a middle power – one that confidently and collectively holds its own against undue external pressures, be it China, the United States, or others. Johanna Son* reports.
As ASEAN marks its 50th year, calls are being made for a rethink of its consensus principle. This element of the ‘ASEAN Way’ is often faulted for what is seen as tepid, weak and slow responses by the association, but ASEAN’s member states see it as crucial to having kept diverse member states together over the decades – and ensure they keep the conversation going. Nik Luqman contributed this think piece to Reporting ASEAN.