On 26 April 2023, the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies (IDSS) at RSIS and the Institute for Defence International Relations (IDIR), Vietnam, convened the 2nd IDSS-IDIR Dialogue. As the host, Mr Adrian Tan, Executive Coordinator, Policy Research Office; Head of Strategic Planning, Coordination and Projects; Deputy Director of IDSS; welcomed the four-member IDIR delegation, led by Senior Colonel Luong Van Manh, Deputy Director of IDIR, to RSIS.
Participants exchanged views on the engagement of major powers in the Asia Pacific, as well as the future role and relevance of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Several participants noted that tensions in the Taiwan Strait are a growing concern to regional security. This concern has manifested in developments such as the expansion of the Philippines-US Enhanced Defence Cooperation Arrangement (EDCA).
In the event that tensions reach boiling point, China and the US would be expected to reach out to countries in the region for support, in what would likely be a maritime conflict that spans the whole Asia Pacific theatre. It would be deleterious for Southeast Asia if the engagements of the major powers seek only to preserve their interests and not the interests of regional states.
Some participants assessed that ASEAN needs to consolidate its various mechanisms and initiatives. This would be important to help it address complex issues such as the ongoing political and humanitarian crisis in Myanmar. A view was expressed that, in light of the current geopolitical shifts and developments, ASEAN should strive to create practical value by promoting its inclusive forums to address pressing global and regional issues.