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Panel 1. ASEAN at 46: Ideals, Opportunities and Obstacles

Chair: Sally Percival Wood (Deakin University)

Since its inception in 1967, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has evolved beyond what was originally envisaged by its five original members. In the mid 1960s, Southeast Asia was an area of political upheaval and nascent economic development, striving for domestic stability. European Union-style institution-building, let alone regional cohesion, seemed a distant aspiration. The Asian Financial Crisis (1997-98) delivered new imperatives for cooperation among ASEAN states, but also for broader regional engagement. ASEAN entered a new phase, positioning itself as central to regional architecture development and economic cooperation. The ASEAN Regional Forum (1997) and the East Asia Summit (2007) now bring 27 nations together in security and strategic dialogue. This panel explores ASEAN as an alternative form of regionalism in its adherence to the ‘ASEAN Way’ and the subsequent asymmetry that has developed in regional multilateralism. It then turns to specific examples of the burgeoning ‘security community’ and ‘economic community’ aspirations that are largely driven by the external forces of terrorism post-9/11 and the economic rise of China.

Paper 1: The ‘ASEAN Way’ – an alternative form of cultural regionalism?

Sally Percival Wood (Deakin University)

The ten nations that comprise ASEAN are not only geographically linked, they have cultural and historical ties that lie deep. As these nations decolonised in the post-Word War Two era, various forms of regional connection were explored: Buddhist and Islamic links were invoked; Indo and Sino civilisational roots were revived; the shared experience of European oppression stimulated a sense of political unity and purpose; and, as the Cold War intensified, choices of alignment and non-alignment with the West divided the region into two ideological blocs. As these multiple forms of regional connection suggest, Southeast Asian unity was dependant upon a mutual respect for diversity.  When ASEAN was formalised in 1967, the five original member states – Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand – exemplified this core feature. Unlike the European Union, ASEAN was made up of Buddhist, Islamic and Christian nations; monarchies, democracies and military dictatorships; aligned and non-aligned nations. This paper argues that this defining feature of ASEAN – together with the shared cultural and historical ties that stretch back many centuries – has necessitated an alternative form of regional cooperation, the ‘ASEAN way’, that has been little understood in the West. The paper traces these multiple connections and considers whether they strengthen or weaken the ASEAN ideal of institutional centrality as the Asia region takes on a more influential global role in the twenty-first century.

Paper 2: ASEAN’s counter-terrorism after Bali: A security community redefined?

Math Noortmann (Oxford Brookes University)

With the entry into force of the ASEAN Charter (2008), and the ASEAN Convention on Counter-Terrorism (2010), ASEAN seems to have taken the idea of being a security community to a new level of reading ASEAN’s security concerns. ASEAN’s engagement with terrorism has changed from a typical ASEAN policy of non-interference in internal affairs to new forms of institutionalized cooperation.

The gradual (re)defining of ASEANs security problem as one of non-state activity rather than one of state action in the aftermath of the 9/11 and 10/12 terrorist attacks, paved ASEAN’s Way towards institutionalized and formalized cooperation. ASEAN’s engagement with the new regional security threat triggered a process of trans-nationalization.

The traditional ASEAN way, required elite consent at the state level, which is evaded by transnational terrorism. The paper argues that ASEAN’s new institutionalization is a direct result of transnational terrorism and the political understanding that the new security threat required a security community that was capable of dealing with threats that transcended the capacity and jurisdiction of individual member states.

That argument combines insights from international relations and international law with a view to understand and explain the principles and practices of ASEAN’s new security ‘communization’.

Paper 3: The role of China in cooperation and integration of Southeast Asia

Katarzyna Anna Nawrot (Poznan University of Economics)

The landscape of international relations in Southeast Asia has changed in a substantial way just in the last two decades along with the changes in the global economy and what is even more crucial in East Asia itself. It attributes to the intensification of global interactions, diminishing of geographical borders in the flow of goods and services, capital and labour. The resulted interdependence and the transformation of global economy into integrated system of markets become an impulse and in fact the necessity to search for new forms of cooperation, functioning and governance what become even more apparent with the rise of the economies of China and India. Southeast Asian countries could not remain without a reaction for on going processes, and cooperation of differentiate character in the region was intensified. Therefore the paper discusses the role of China in cooperation and integration of Southeast Asia focusing in detail on trade and investment links between China and Southeast Asian countries, followed with the implications of China’s economic expansion on ASEAN countries and the role of ASEAN itself in the transforming Asia.