The 34th ASEAN Summit held in Bangkok last weekend once again reflected the unity of the ASEAN countries and reached consensus on all major issues. As the United States and China’s competition and competition in the region became increasingly hot, the summit adopted and published the “Asean Outlook On The Indo-Pacific” document, which attracted more attention.
This is the first time that ASEAN has collectively expressed its position on the US-led India-Pacific initiative and expressed its views on how the region should develop. The introduction of this document, more importantly, is to take back ASEAN’s dominance in regional affairs and re-establish ASEAN’s central position.
The Indian-Pacific strategy proposed by the United States in recent years has replaced its old Asia-Pacific strategy and included India, Japan and Australia in order to contain and contain China’s rise and expansion. Although the ASEAN countries have scruples about the strength of China’s national situation, they do not agree with the Indian-Pacific strategy because Southeast Asian countries are not willing to stand in the US-China confrontation.
However, it seems that the ASEAN countries cannot reach a consensus on how to deal with the new situation brought about by the fierce game between the two major powers in the region. This will inevitably make the international community feel its position and its role in regional affairs. Especially in advance, ASEAN also faces the danger of being divided. Some countries are highly dependent on China economically, and their geopolitical stance has shown that they are unable to do so.
The leaders of ASEAN countries should eventually realize that the continuation of this embarrassing state is extremely harmful to the image and unity of ASEAN. The willingness of countries not to choose a side station is obvious, but the willingness to not be involved in the battle vortex is obviously not enough. The key is how to do it so that it will not be passive and avoid helplessness and powerlessness in the development of its own core interests.
Under this circumstance, this summit finally passed the “Indo-Taiwan Outlook” promoted by Indonesia, indicating that the common position and common views are undoubtedly important breakthroughs. At least, the international community can now clearly know what ASEAN’s overall position is. Of course, this is still a “paper talk” at this stage, but it is undoubtedly the necessary preparation for further development of a specific action plan.
“India Outlook” covers four key points: First, the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean regions are closely linked, and ASEAN plays a central and strategic role. Second, the Indo-Pacific region is a dialogue and cooperation, not a competition. The region; the Indo-Pacific region should become a region of common development and prosperity; Fourth, in the evolution of the regional structure, the maritime sector is an important link.
This document will serve as a guide for cooperation between the Indian and Pacific regions, helping to create a peaceful and stable environment and maintaining a rule-based regional structure. Based on this, ASEAN will try to strengthen cooperation in various aspects such as maritime affairs and connectivity, promote economic and trade cooperation and build mutual trust. In addition, ASEAN will also work to strengthen its existing cooperation mechanisms led by ASEAN, such as the East Asia Summit, and explore the possibility of cooperation with other regional mechanisms.
It can be said that the vision of the Indo-Pacific region depicted by ASEAN is different from the Indian-dominated Indian strategy. The United States has its own strategic goals, and China has its own “Chinese dream.” The small country caught in the middle may not be able to change the intentions of the big countries, but in addition to warming up the group, it can also try to gather strength in regional affairs. Play more initiative. Only by doing so can ASEAN strengthen its resistance to being sucked into the whirlpool of the great powers.
“Asean’s Inventor’s Outlook” is an important declaration. Will it ultimately produce the expected effect, depending on whether the member states can unite the common strategic vision, sit down and talk; and stabilize the steering wheel to ensure the center of ASEAN continues. Consolidation, so that plans that help maintain regional neutrality, peace and stability can be translated into practical actions and practical effects.