ASEAN, a persistence with dialogue, on a trodden path

Source– The post is based on the article “ASEAN, a persistence with dialogue, on a trodden path” published in “The Hindu” on 25th July 2023.

Syllabus : GS 2- Regional groupings and agreements

Relevance: ASEAN

News- The 56th Foreign Ministers Meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the post-ministerial conferences and other related regional meetings, held in Jakarta, Indonesia in mid-July, 2023.

What is the vision of ASEAN?

Political community that ensures regional peace and a just, democratic and harmonious environment.

Economic community focused on achieving a well-integrated and connected regional economy within the global economic system.

Socio-cultural community to enhance the quality of life of ASEAN’s citizens as well as sustainable development of the region.

What are the challenges faced by ASEAN?

China has close political and economic ties with ASEAN member states. Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar are considered as virtual dependencies.

But, the Philippines has recently become more assertive in its claims in the South China Sea.

Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand hold favourable attitudes towards Beijing. None of these countries raises objections to China’s delaying tactics in negotiating an enforceable code of conduct for the South China Sea.

The strained relationship between the U.S. and China is a cause of worry for ASEAN.

As per China, the U.S. is solely responsible for poor relations. It is not willing to accept and accommodate itself to China’s ‘peaceful rise. The U.S is against the Chinese aggressiveness and coercion in the Indo-Pacific and beyond.

ASEAN prefers the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP). Its four identified areas are maritime cooperation, connectivity, UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030 and economic cooperation. But, its actual implementation remains a worry.

ASEAN does not have a united position on the Myanmar situation. ASEAN has barred Myanmar from all its political-level discussions. But, Thailand has its own political dialogue with the military government.

What shows the importance of ASEAN for India?

The significance of the ASEAN meetings for India becomes evident in the decision of External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar to represent India at the post-ministerial conference and other regional dialogues.

He emphasised the importance of a “strong and unified” ASEAN in the emerging Indo-Pacific dynamics and highlighted the alignment between the AOIP and India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative.

He has proposed exploring “newer areas such as cyber, financial, and maritime security domains to enhance the comprehensive strategic partnership between India and ASEAN.

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