US-ASEAN Summit

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US-ASEAN Summit

ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Sat Sep 11, 2010 4:26 pm

The US-ASEAN Summit should be held in Washington
Author: Ernest Z. Bower, CSIS

In late September or early October, President Barack Obama will host the first US-ASEAN Summit on US soil. The summit will be the second of its kind following the inaugural meeting in Singapore last November. There are two venue options now being considered by the White House: New York, on the margins of the UN General Assembly; or Washington D.C., the US capital. There is only one correct answer to this foreign policy test: Washington.


While the policy teams at the State Department, the National Security Council, the Pentagon, the Commerce Department, and the Office of the US Trade Representative will understand immediately the core importance of ASEAN, political leaders may not have connected the dots yet. ASEAN is vitally important to the United States. Anchored by Indonesia (a G20 member and next chair of ASEAN), it is home to 10 countries, including two US allies (Philippines and Thailand), 620 million people, US $1.5 trillion GDP, important strategic and commercial sea lanes and navigational routes, and is the fourth-largest market for US exports.

The United States has nearly three times the investment in ASEAN as it does in China and nearly 10 times as much as in India. There is no way the United States can double exports without a strong focus on trade policy and trade-enabling initiatives – by the Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the Trade Development Agency, the Commerce Department, the Foreign Commercial Service, and others – in this region.

ASEAN will be the fulcrum of new trade and security architecture in the Asia-Pacific region for this century. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been clear about the importance of ‘ASEAN centrality’ in these new structures that will be the foundation of US national security and economic prosperity for the coming decades.

The invitation may also help balance Beijing’s charm offensive toward ASEAN. ASEAN does not want to be dominated by any country or large power, including the United States, China, or India. It wants balance, and that should be an interest shared by an enduring US strategy for engagement in Asia. Balance is the key to avoiding conflicts and helping the regional giants like China and India act on the regional stage in a peaceful and productive manner. A meeting in Washington backs up the US commitment to supporting such balance and transparency in areas that might otherwise become flashpoints for security concerns, such as the South China Sea.

There would not even be much debate about this if the administration truly had a strategy for Southeast Asia. When inviting 10 foreign leaders from a strategically vital region to meet the president of the United States, symbolism and form are vitally important. Holding the meeting in Washington sends the right message at the right time. Following renewed US commitment to engage and focus on the region, demonstrated most recently by Secretary Clinton’s strong performance at the ASEAN Regional Forum meeting in Hanoi, President Obama has a unique opportunity to follow through on his rhetorical commitment to be ‘the first Pacific president.’

Inviting his ASEAN colleagues to Washington would be seen as following through on that vision. A meeting in New York does not convey the importance of this summit. New York might get the meeting done, but Washington would demonstrate thoughtfulness and commitment.

Effective foreign policy rests on good decisions at the right time. This is one such choice, and it should be made within a week to allow adequate time for planning and execution of a truly strategic summit.

Ernest Z. Bower is a senior adviser and director of the Southeast Asia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.

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sunny

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Re: US-ASEAN Summit

ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Sat Sep 11, 2010 4:35 pm

American advances in Asia: No real gains for ASEAN
Author: Fenna Egberink, Clingendael Institute

The United States’ recent Asian diplomacy has been most interesting. The US has drawn ASEAN countries into the guarded enmity between the US and China. Is this to Southeast Asia’s benefit?


Earlier this year China took a noticeably more proactive stance vis-à-vis its regional partners. After first asserting the South China Sea to be a ‘core interest’ during bilateral discussions with the US, a term generally reserved for its claims to Tibet, Taiwan and Xinjiang, China defied US diplomatic efforts by using its veto-powers in the UN Security Council to block actions against North Korea in the aftermath of the Cheonan incident.

The ensuing tension in the region provided the momentum for the US to finally make headway on the Asian engagement it announced when Obama took office. Mere weeks after the Security Council meeting the US stepped up, accepting ASEAN’s invitation for it to join the East Asia Summit and announcing its intention to play a role in the South China Sea. In doing so, the US rebuffed China’s claim and argued that it is in the US’ national interest to protect its and others’ access to, and security in, international waters. In forming this position, the US has in one strike placed itself in direct opposition to China, which has always opposed the intervention or mediation of non-parties.

Unsurprisingly, Southeast Asia often serves as a proxy theatre for the US and China to fight out their battles over North-East Asia. With the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area firmly in place and China ensconsed within the Asian integration process through (the exclusively Asian) ASEAN+3, the US needed to step up its game. Its recent moves show that this has taken place, but whether ASEAN stands to gain from this position is questionable.

In all fairness ASEAN has been vying for further US support in the region, and the US intending to join the East Asia Summit is as much as it could have hoped for. American Southeast Asian advances are well-timed as well, with Obama’s long-postponed visit to Indonesia weighing down on the region’s traditionally strong ties with its security guarantor. Although American support for ASEAN’s South China Sea claimants is welcomed by some, it has also provoked a clash of Southeast Asian interests. Vietnam has embraced a potential American role in the dispute, while the Philippines has made clear that, as far as it is concerned, American involvement is not only unnecessary, but also unwanted.

These internal divisions point out an important draw-back of America’s recent moves. Increased engagement is much welcomed, but not if it feels like an anti-China rather than a pro-ASEAN policy. With ASEAN already struggling in the face of China’s dominance, it does not need another great power using it as a pawn in a broader strategic game. And any liaison with the US can justifiably be interpreted by China as an effort to balance China’s influence in the region, which places ASEAN’s economic and security interests at risk.

Although ASEAN countries could be tempted to go along with America’s new bout of Asian engagement in order to make short-term diplomatic and political gains, it would be unwise to abandon precaution when becoming mixed up in a rivalry game between the region’s two super powers – a lesson which the region’s history should have taught the countries several times over. In light of the increased tensions in the region and the divided response to a potential American role in the South China Sea, ASEAN should prioritise Southeast Asian unity and sovereignty, and as such reject playing any role in Sino-American competition and thus forego aligning itself with America in regard to the South China Sea disputes.

Fenna Egberink is a research fellow for Clingendael Asia Studies at the Netherlands Institute of International Relations Clingendael.

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มนุษย์อยู่ร่วมในสังคมเดียวกัน โดยความคิดเห็นที่แตกต่างกัน ย่อมสร้างผลกระทบต่อสังคมได้ฉันนั้น

sunny

จำนวนข้อความ : 3511
Registration date : 28/06/2008

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