US-China rivalry, plastic pollution and the World Cup offer on the agenda at the ASEAN Summit



24 June 2019 17:50:24

The power rivalries between China and the United States, the Rohingya crisis, the plastic in the oceans and the FIFA World Cup of 2034 were all on the menu during the weekend, when the leaders of Southeast Asia met for their summit annual in Bangkok.

Key points:

  • The ASEAN issues a statement on the Indo-Pacific, but the approach to rivalry between China and the US is unclear
  • The projects show that ASEAN will have the fourth largest economy in the world by 2030
  • The leaders announce a joint offer to host the 2034 World Cup

Despite the regional seismic changes in recent years, the reporting of the South East Asian Association (ASEAN) summit was poor in Australia – overshadowed by the prospect of a war between the United States and Iran and the race for the next PM of Great Britain – even if great things were on the agenda.

"Australia is really struggling with a great rivalry of power which is a risk for it, given that China is its largest trading partner and the United States is the guarantor of security", a Southeast expert asian Aaron Connelly said ABC.

"ASEAN is a bit eager to overcome this great rivalry of power, without facing the Chinese actions that led to a great power competition … it's just wishful thinking."

These are the key points of the gathering of Australian neighbor leaders over the weekend.

US-China rivalry and Rohingya crisis

The combined population of ASEAN member states is now estimated at over 650 million, with the Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong who recently stated that the combined economies of ASEAN countries will be the fourth largest market in the world by 2030.

The power struggle between the United States and China, as well as trade war, has important implications for the region, which is a fundamental part of the Belt and Road initiative.

Regional leaders yesterday released the prospect of the ASEAN on the Indo-Pacific, reaffirming the bloc's role in "promoting cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region" through mechanisms guided by ASEAN as the # 39; East Asia.

"The rise of material powers (like China) requires avoiding in-depth mistrust, miscalculations, and behavioral patterns based on a zero-sum game," he said.

But according to Mr. Connelly, "there was nothing in the perspective to explain how it would reduce the great rivalry of power".

"Without addressing the Chinese actions that led to a great power competition … it's really just wishful thinking," he said.

The blockade failed to demonstrate a decisive action on the Rohingya issue, a persecuted Muslim minority of which 900,000 were displaced in Bangladesh after being targeted by the Myanmar military and Buddhist vigilantes in Rakhine state.

The UN has stated that the generals responsible for committing atrocities against the Rohingya with "genocidal intent" should be tried at the Hague.

Within the ASEAN, however, only the Indonesia and Malaysia with a Muslim majority have condemned the government of Aung San Suu Kyi.

The Foreign Minister of Malaysia, Saifuddin Abdullah, used the leaders' meeting to ask "that the perpetrators of the Rohingya issue be brought to justice".

In a statement, the group managed to find an agreement to highlight support for "Myanmar's commitment to ensuring security and protection for all communities in the state of Rakhine" and the safe return of displaced persons in a "safe way" , safe and dignified ".

"All this ignores the fact that there are no volunteers to return to the state of Rakhine," Connelly said.

"Bangladesh could not find anyone (people who want to return) out of 900,000 Rohingya who are in Bangladesh."

"The role of the ASEAN in the Rohingya crisis was not constructive," he added.

Greater economic integration or hot air?

Also the rapidly growing trade and economies of the region were firmly on the agenda of the leaders' summit.

Greater economic integration was again underlined, sanctioned by the ASEAN Economic Community initiative.

"We reiterated our strong commitment to conclude the negotiations on the global regional economic partnership (RCEP) by 2019 to reinvigorate international trade and maintain the credibility and centrality of ASEAN", stated a statement by the president of ; ASEAN.

Progress towards the conclusion of the RCEP – a proposed regional free trade agreement – has "moved slowly," said Roland Rajah, director of the international economy program at the Lowy Institute.

"It is not clear how it will change soon, despite urgent progress requests," he told ABC.

"India in particular has long been a charge for RCEP."

This could have implications for Australia, given that the combined economies of the ASEAN block represent greater two-way trade with Australia than the United States and Japan.

The instruction is a large export for ASEAN, with about 20% of Australian university students from the region.

The two-way investment between Australia and ASEAN in 2016 was $ 224.4 billion, a greater investment than the two-way investment with China.

Among the controversies over Western countries, including the Australia that sends waste to the southeastern area of ​​Asia to be transformed, ASEAN has also promised to reduce the plastic waste flowing into the oceans.

Member States have stated in a statement that they "appreciate and emphasize environmental protection and support Thailand in including the environment protection agenda and the fight against marine debris, which is a & # 39 ; global agenda ".

Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam are the largest plastic producers in the world's oceans, along with China.

The ASEAN states said they would encourage collaborative efforts "to create policies conducive to the transition to environmentally and socially sustainable economies".

"It seems to me that the agenda addresses some fundamental challenges as a regional public good in a region characterized by weak governance," said Rajah.

"Take Indonesia for example as the largest economy in the region – they are very good at regulation but not very good at implementation.

"So I don't expect anything to change very quickly."

ASEAN has the dreams of the World Cup

While his national teams have generally underperformed the world stage, no one can deny that Southeast Asia is a crazy football.

Last Sunday, Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha announced that the 10 ASEAN members would try to "host the FIFA World Cup in 2034, if possible".

"I would like to invite the people of ASEAN to support football associations in their countries to make this dream come true," he said.

"We felt alone (offers for a nation), we will never have the chance to host the World Cup," said Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad at the Malaysian news agency Bernama, adding that a joint offer gave South East Asia countries a better shot at winning.

"Obviously, games can be played in all ASEAN countries, such as when Japan and South Korea hosted in 2002.

"Nine years ago … we were almost mocked at the idea that ASEAN could be coordinated enough to do something like this and, in particular, could build the facilities and run a high quality World Cup" said Connelly.

"But it was before FIFA rewarded the World Cup in Qatar, even before Indonesia had hosted very successful Asian games."



government and politics,










Brunei Darussalam,


First published

24 June 2019 17:24:00

. (tagToTranslate) asean (t) Southeast Asia (t) asia (t) diplomacy (t) trade (t) economy (t) china (t) united states (t) great powers (t) world cup (t) calcium (t) calcium


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.