26 October 2016
The EAS started with a community building vision. With US participation and rising strategic tensions, it has become a regional confidence building and conflict-prevention mechanism. This is a realistic role for the EAS that ASEAN should embrace and sharpen.
The function of the East Asia Summit (EAS) has evolved from community building to the pressing role of conflict prevention. A forum that draws the United States and China, but also includes Japan, India and Russia in this period of global uncertainty is potentially of enormous value. ASEAN should embrace “EAS Phase II” and drop the piety that the EAS bears any relation to community building.
That long-term task could be left to sub–regional groupings like the ASEAN Plus Three forum and its offshoot, the Northeast Asian forum (China, Japan and S Korea). ASEAN should instead streamline the EAS agenda and actively frame the region’s most important security discussions. It should strengthen its public communications to better convey the EAS’s role to the ASEAN public and the international community.
… John Pang is a Senior Fellow with the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
CMS / Online
Last updated on 27/10/2016