ASEAN is at the crossroad of power rivalry?

1. In the backdrop of China’s increasing assertiveness, Washington will for the first time host a trilateral official-level dialogue with Japanese, Indian and US diplomats on December 19 to build convergence over regional maritime security and non-proliferation in East Asia and Pacific. Such strategic move will be understood by Beijing as an increasing entanglement against China.

2. As the world’s center of gravity shifts toward the Asia-Pacific region, concerns are growing in Europe that the former center of global geopolitics may be sidelined. European politicians and analysts have urged Europe to shift its focus increasingly toward the Asia-Pacific, following Washington’s strategic adjustment toward the region. Europe needs to actively engage with ASEAN in order to create a common strategic platform in the Asia Pacific region in tandem with US and Russia.

3. Deep down, the internal dynamic of Asean is what matters the most. The future Asean coordinators with dialogue countries and chairs in the next few years will make or break the grouping’s ties with major powers. Burma, as the incoming Asean coordinator of Asean-US relations for the next three years (2012-15), would inevitably shape these future ties. Cambodian chairmanship of ASEAN in 2012 will face with increasing power competition and rivalry. Cambodia will be the center of power attraction and domination.

4.    SOUTHEAST  ASIA’S  PLACE  IN  ASIA:  PERCEPTIONS,  REALITIES,  AND   ASPIRATIONS   WORKSHOP  REPORT      Bronson  Percival,  Visiting  Fellow,  East  West  Center,  Washington

a) Competition between China and the United States has increased Southeast Asia’s strategic significance in the Indo-Pacific region.

b) Southeast Asians believe their growing trade relationship with China is compatible with continued diplomatic and security hedging against China. Whether an increasingly dense and complex economic relationship and continued hedging is sustainable in the future is not clear.

c) The Association of Southeast Asian Nation’s (ASEAN) “soft coherence” both amplifies Southeast Asian states’ voices in Asia and protects their autonomy. ASEAN’s utility is often under-appreciated outside the region.

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