This article embrace a focus on two powerful regional blocs at the ASEAN-India and East Asia Summit in Kuala Lumpur. Stay tuned to India-ASEAN and East Asia Summit, as we capture it in detail.
Let’s take a quick track overview
- The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, was established on 8 August 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand.
- The Founding Fathers of ASEAN were, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.
- Since then, membership has expanded to include Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar (Burma), and Vietnam.
- The creation of ASEAN was motivated by a common fear of communism, and a thirst for economic development.
What’s the main purpose of ASEAN?
- To accelerate the economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region through joint endeavours in the spirit of equality and partnership.
- In order to strengthen the foundation for a prosperous and peaceful community of Southeast Asian Nations.
- To promote active collaboration and mutual assistance on matters of common interest in the economic, social, cultural, technical, scientific and administrative fields.
What are the significant outcomes of the ASEAN Summit 2015?
- ASEAN leaders declared the establishment of an EU-style regional economic bloc, ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), a single market with a free flow of goods, capital and skilled labour in the region.
- The AEC envisages a single market with a free flow of goods, capital and skilled labour across borders in the highly competitive economic region.
- It will integrate Southeast Asia’s diverse economies, a region with 620 million people and a combined GDP of $2.4 trillion.
- For the people at large, the declarations imply increased economic opportunities and access to quality jobs, wider choices and better quality products and services.
Let’s take a glance at the East Asia Summit?
- East Asia Summit is a unique Leaders-led forum of 18 countries of the Asia-Pacific region formed to further the objectives of regional peace, security and prosperity.
- Established in 2005, EAS allows the principal players in the Asia-Pacific region to discuss issues of common interest and concern in an open and transparent manner at the highest level.
- It is an initiative of ASEAN and is based on the premise of the centrality of ASEAN.
Six priority areas of regional cooperation in EAS framework
- Environment and Energy.
- Global Health Issues and Pandemic Diseases.
- Natural Disaster Management.
- ASEAN Connectivity.
How many members benchmarked to the list?
The membership of EAS consists of ten ASEAN Member States and Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation and the USA.
So, What’s the healthy news for India in summit?
- The leaders of the East Asia Summit are expected to discuss matters of international concern including terrorism, irregular migration, the South China Sea, the situation in Korean Peninsula and in the Middle East.
- The negotiations on Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement involving the 10 ASEAN countries and its six FTA partners including India have seen some breakthroughs and are expected to be concluded in 2016.
- The agreement will open doors for Indian business in the RCEP countries having a combined GDP of USD 17 trillion.
- At the ASEAN summit, the leaders will take note of the new Plan of Action (2016-2020) to further enhance ASEAN-India cooperation along the politico-security, economic and socio-cultural pillars.
How does this summit addresses the talk on South China Sea disputes?
- China claims almost the entire energy-rich South China Sea.
- It prompted concerns in Washington and across the region that China is trying to militarise its claims in the South China Sea.
- The Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei also have territorial claims in the South China Sea.
Can ASEAN ever solve the South China Seas dispute through multilateral dialogue?
- For the last two decades ASEAN has invested enormous time and effort in multilateral forums to promote peace and security in East Asia.
- Evaluating ASEAN’s role in managing the problem in the South China Seas reveals that far from addressing this evolving conflict over international rights of free passage on the high seas, its weak multilateral approach only further stirs already troubled waters.
- On the surface, ASEAN’s softly-softly approach seemed to bear fruit with an ASEAN-China Free trade agreement and a Declaration of a Code of Conduct to manage disputes in the South China Sea in 2002.
What is the biggest threat facing the world today?
Is it about China’s hegemony over South China Sea?
- Beijing’s comfort with the ASEAN process culminated in 2002 in the signing of a non-binding Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.
- The South China Sea dispute ultimately demonstrates how more powerful actors can manipulate ASEAN’s weak multilateral dialogue process to advance grand strategic interests.
- China, in other words, is successfully engaging ASEAN in a policy of divide and rule.
- For instance, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi stated that, Beijing wanted any disputes resolved in negotiations between it and ASEAN on the basis “of historical facts and in accordance with international law” and that China and ASEAN were working on a code of conduct.
All of which is to say, peace on Chinese terms!
Published with inputs from Arun