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Showing posts for "Asean"

Pence Returns Home: Southeast Asia Overshadowed

by Joshua Kurlantzick
pence-australia U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (L) meets with Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at Admiralty House in Sydney, Australia, on April 22, 2017. (Jason Reed/Reuters)

Vice President Mike Pence, after a brief but relatively successful trip in Asia, rushed back to Washington ahead of schedule this week; the U.S. administration plans to tackle a very important set of domestic priorities including tax reform and keeping the federal government open. Pence reduced his time in Honolulu at the end of his trip. More important, as Reuters notes, portions of his trip in Indonesia and Australia were overshadowed by the increasingly tense environment in Northeast Asia, which now includes the reported chance of another North Korean missile or nuclear test Tuesday. Read more »

Expanding South Korea’s Security Role in the Asia-Pacific Region

by Scott A. Snyder
South Korean Navy patrol combat corvettes stage an anti-submarine exercise off the western coast of Taean on May 27, 2010. North Korea said on Thursday it was ripping up military agreements signed with the South in a step seen as a prelude to shutting down a joint factory park, just as Seoul staged anti-submarine drills in tense border waters. (Reuters/Kim Jae-hwan)

This post was coauthored with Sungtae (Jacky) Park, research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations.

South Korea has become a nation with a global presence, but Seoul has yet to exercise its influence in Southeast Asia. In a Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) discussion paper, Expanding South Korea’s Security Role in the Asia-Pacific Region, Patrick M. Cronin, senior advisor and senior director of the Asia-Pacific security program at the Center for a New American Security, and Seongwon Lee, deputy director for the international cooperation division of the unification policy office at the Ministry of Unification of the Republic of Korea, argue that South Korea should play a larger role in the region, particularly with regard to dealing with a rising China and coping with rising maritime tensions. Read more »

Malaysia’s Front Office Role in Enabling North Korean WMD Procurement

by Scott A. Snyder
North Korean Ambassador to Malaysia Kang Chol (C), who was expelled from Malaysia, is escorted as he arrives at Kuala Lumpur international airport in Sepang, Malaysia March 6, 2017. (Reuters/Lai Seng Sin)

North Korea continues to evade UN sanctions designed to prevent its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) development by embedding its agents and intermediaries within the international trading system, according to the latest assessment of the UN Panel of Experts set up to monitor North Korean compliance with international sanctions. Read more »

Further Signs of Southeast Asia’s Political Regression

by Joshua Kurlantzick
prayuth-thailand Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha looks on before a weekly cabinet meeting at Government House in Bangkok, Thailand, on April 26, 2016. (Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)

Three new annual reports, from the U.S. State Department, Freedom House, and Reporters without Borders, add further evidence to worries that much of Southeast Asia is experiencing an authoritarian revival. Released this week, Freedom House’s annual Freedom of the Press report (for which I served as a consultant for several Southeast Asia chapters) reveals that in nearly all the ten ASEAN nations, press freedom regressed significantly last year. Freedom House’s findings are similar those of Reporters Without Borders annual Press Freedom Index, which was released earlier this month. Read more »

The U.S.-ASEAN Summit: Final Thoughts

by Joshua Kurlantzick
U.S.-ASEAN-leaders summit-sunnylands U.S. President Barack Obama (C) is flanked by leaders from the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit during a group photo opportunity in Rancho Mirage, California, on February 16, 2016. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

The U.S.-ASEAN summit earlier this week, held at Sunnylands estate in California, was overshadowed by the death of Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, and the political debate over his possible replacement. Many Southeast Asian leaders, who had looked forward to the summit as a sign of the Obama administration’s interest in the region, as well as a kind of blessing for hardline rulers like Cambodia’s Hun Sen and Thailand’s Prayuth Chan-ocha, were probably disappointed by how little attention the summit got from the U.S. media and from many U.S. politicians and opinion leaders. Read more »

The Elephant in the US-ASEAN Room: Democracy

by Joshua Kurlantzick
US-ASEAN-summit U.S. President Barack Obama (bottom L) participates in a US-ASEAN meeting at the ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on November 21, 2015. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Next week, at a summit in California, President Obama will meet the ten leaders of countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the most important regional group in Asia. The event, the first-ever US-ASEAN summit on American soil, is being touted by the White House as a sign of the importance of Southeast Asia. After all, the Obama administration has made relations with Southeast Asia a centerpiece of “the pivot,” or “rebalance to Asia,” a national security strategy that entails shifting American military, economic, and diplomatic resources to the Pacific Rim. Read more »

Lessons From Obama’s Southeast Asia Trip

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Obama-ASEAN summit U.S. President Barack Obama holds a news conference at the conclusion of his ASEAN Summit and East Asia Summit (EAS) meetings in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on November 22, 2015. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Although President Obama’s Asia trip earlier this month was overshadowed by the international response to the Paris attacks and debates in the United States about refugee policy, the president’s visit to Malaysia and the Philippines did offer several lessons about U.S. relations with Southeast Asia. The Obama visits to Southeast Asia, part of a longer trip that included the G-20 summit in Turkey, were intended to demonstrate the administration’s commitment to the pivot in Southeast Asia. Read more »

ASEAN’s New Community—Only a Small Step

by Joshua Kurlantzick
ASEAN-community-signing Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak (L) shakes hands with Secretary General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Le Luong Minh during a signing ceremony at the 2015 Kuala Lumpur Declaration on the Establishment of the Asean Community at the 27th ASEAN summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on November 22, 2015. (Goh Seng Chong /Reuters)

At an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit last week, Southeast Asian leaders signed an agreement creating an “ASEAN Community.” The Diplomat reports that the “Community,” much discussed by Southeast Asian media and leaders in recent years, will be “a step towards realizing the idea of a three-pillared community to deepen regional integration first proposed in 2003 comprising an ASEAN Political and Security Community; an ASEAN Economic Community; and an ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community.” All the specifics of what these communities will entail have not been finalized, despite long “blueprints” proposed by ASEAN for each of the communities. Read more »

Little Chance of a Regional Solution for the Rohingya

by Joshua Kurlantzick
rohingya-indonesia-aceh Rohingya migrants, who arrived in Indonesia by boat, queue up for their breakfast inside a temporary compound for refugees in Kuala Cangkoi village in Lhoksukon, Indonesia's Aceh Province on May 18, 2015. (Beawiharta/Courtesy: Reuters)

In the wake of the latest horrific reports of Rohingya fleeing Myanmar, the United States government has called Southeast Asian nations to come together and adopt a region-wide strategy for addressing the refugee crisis. “This is a regional issue. It needs a regional solution in short order,” State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke told reporters last week, according to the Associated Press. As of today, thousands of Rohingya reportedly remain at sea, off the coasts of Malaysia and Indonesia, on rickety boats, after human smugglers abandoned them; Malaysia and Indonesia refuse to accept any more of the refugees stranded at sea. Read more »

Thailand’s Teflon Economy Finally Seems to Be Cracking

by Joshua Kurlantzick
thailand-tourism-campaign Performers take part in a parade during the "2015 Discover Thainess" campaign, an event held to promote tourism, in Bangkok on January 14, 2015. (Chaiwat Subprasom /Courtesy: Reuters)

For nearly fifteen years in the 2000s and early 2010s, Thailand’s economy, once one of the fastest-growing in the world, survived the effects of near-constant political turmoil, natural disasters, and worries about the country’s future in the wake of a looming royal succession. Even after the massive floods in the monsoon season of 2011 that destroyed much of the industrial estates north of Bangkok, home to auto parts, disk drive, and other key manufacturing plants, Thailand’s economy rebounded strongly. Read more »