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Misc.

Thitinan Pongsudhirak on the ASEAN Cambodia Meeting

2012 07 27 asean map

Thitinan Pongsudhirak has in an op-ed in today’s Bangkok Post about the recent ASEAN meeting in Cambodia. He says:

The post-mortems of the failure by Asean to agree on a hitherto routine joint statement after their 45th Ministerial Meeting are coming in thick and heavy. Recriminations and acrimony are crisscrossing the region, the shockwaves being felt and analysed across the Pacific and to the Atlantic.

The annual ministerial joint communiques are as old as Asean itself. Its unprecedented absence is thus a serious setback for the 10-member organisation, a crucial blow to its credibility and coherence in the lead-up to its much-vaunted Asean Community by 2015. While the diplomatic damage incurred in Phnom Penh will be glossed over in Asean capitals, serious and effective efforts beyond damage-control are needed before the Asean summit and its related top-level meetings with other major partners are held in November.

What transpired in the Cambodian capital on July 13 is still not completely clear and confirmed. But it is widely accepted that Asean’s inability to stand jointly on even a diluted position was attributable to Cambodia’s disagreement with the Philippines and Vietnam. As the rotating chair of Asean for 2012, Cambodia refused to include specific references to the Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, which is being hotly disputed by the Philippines and China. Vietnam also wanted to include wording on its right to an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), as sanctioned by the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea. In other words, both Manila and Hanoi have rejected and challenged Beijing’s claims over practically the entire South China Sea, through which more than half of global shipping passes. Apart from the Philippines and Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia also are Asean claimants of parts of the sea vis-a-vis China.

Thitinan says ASEAN’s “regional mix” is structurally different from the recent past” for at least three reasons:

1.

…First, China’s posture is much more assertive and less hedged, as evident on South China Sea issues and beyond…

2.

Second, the US is more engaged as opposed to the previous decade. Its rebalancing means certain Asean members can rely on the US’s new posture to hedge and leverage vis-a-vis China…

3.

Third, Asean’s internal coherence is not what it used to be

Worth a read.

Elsewhere, The Wall Street Journal‘s Southeast Asia Real Time had a story last week on the fallout from the meeting.

(Image: Wikipedia.)

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Misc.

WSJ on what the U.S.-Taiwan jet deal could mean for the S. China Sea dispute

An interesting story in today’s Wall Street Journal looks at what the U.S.-Taiwan jet issue means for the South China Sea dispute and China’s relations with Southeast Asian nations:

The Philippines and Indonesia shook off any concerns over a U.S. decision to forego selling new fighter jets to Taiwan, despite fears it could signal a reduction in American support for the region as China expands its military power.

The U.S. decision, reported Monday by the Wall Street Journal, means the Obama administration will upgrade Taiwan’s 146 Lockheed Martin F-16 A/B jets rather than selling it 66 new C/D models that the island has been seeking since 2006, according to a congressional official. Southeast Asian officials were watching the outcome closely to see how the U.S. would balance its growing commercial relationship with China with its commitment to help defend Taiwan against possible aggression from China. It is a subject of intense interest in Southeast Asia given ongoing disputes between many of its countries and China, especially over territorial claims in the resource-rich South China Sea.

(Emphasis mine.)

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Misc.

Obama and Abhisit at APEC

WhiteHouse.gov has this brief video (embedded below) of President Obama speaking after he met with ASEAN leaders at APEC in Singapore on Sunday. Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva appears in the video, and Obama thanks him at the end.

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Misc.

A World Cup in Southeast Asia?

The Bangkok Post has this short item:

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) country members are ready to jointly bid to host the Fifa World Cup in the next 13 years, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said at the 15th Asean Summit on Sunday.

And here’s more from the Jakarta Globe:

Hua Hin, Thailan. Southeast Asia may make a coordinated bid to host the soccer World Cup, with countries sharing hosting rights, a senior Thai official said on Friday.

“Together we have 580 million people, together we would rank as the fifth-largest country in the world,” Thai Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij said. “Why not?” The deadline for submitting bids for both the 2018 and 2022 World Cup finals passed last February and it was unclear whether the Association of South East Nations was looking beyond those tournaments.

Asean groups Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Laos, Cambodia, Burma, Brunei, the Philippines, and Indonesia, which has submitted a bid to host the 2022 finals.

Eight of the 10 countries could each host a group of four teams in the competition, Korn said, adding that Japan and South Korea had set a co-hosting precedent in the 2002 World Cup.

(Emphasis mine.)

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Misc.

ASEAN summit kicks off in Thailand

BBC: “Asean opens with economic agenda

The 10-member Association of South East Asian nations (Asean) has started a summit meeting in Thailand.

They will discuss how to address the impact of declining global demand on their export-dependent economies.

This is the first summit since Asean implemented a charter making it a legal entity more like the European Union.

But human rights groups say there is still no mechanism for dealing with routine abuses inside Asean member states like Burma and Vietnam.

With some Asean members dependent on exports for as much as three quarters of national income, the global economic crisis hangs over this summit meeting like a thunder-cloud.

Rights rules?

But there is not much the member states can do to soften the blow – whereas human rights groups say they should be doing a lot more to give their new charter teeth so that fellow members can be held accountable for abuses of their citizens.

In case you’re curious about the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), you can find some background info here. ((By the way, did you know there’s an official ASEAN flag?))