ASEAN‘s Potential as a Stabilising Factor in Great Power Relations in Asia
Venue: Institute Clingendael, Friday 18 June 2010
In the past fifteen years, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has acted as a major driver of regional cooperation in Asia. To strengthen its security position in the region the organisation has worked towards developing strong bilateral relations, as well as fostering regional cooperation by initiating institutions such as the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), ASEAN plus Three (APT) and the East Asia Summit (EAS).
ASEAN‘s regional efforts must be seen in the context of the geopolitical changes that are taking place in Asia. The primary driver behind these changes is the emergence of China as a leading actor. More than anything else, China‘s rise affects the positions of the other great powers in the region – the United States, Japan, and India – whereby Sino-US relations constitute an especially fundamental element in Asia’s geopolitics. ASEAN aims to maintain close relations with all great powers, and has an interest in stable relations among the great powers themselves. With this interest, the central geographical location of Southeast Asia in between the great powers, the combined size of ASEAN‘s member states, its norms for addressing international issues, its neutral position, and its prominent role in regional organisations, there seems to be a potential for ASEAN to contribute to geopolitical stability in Asia.
The aim of this expert seminar is to explore which potential ASEAN has to contribute to stable relations among the great powers in Asia. During four sessions the following topics will be focused on: the relevance of ASEAN‘s internal dynamics for its capacity to exert regional influence; the implications of changing great power relations, particularly between the US and China, for ASEAN‘s geopolitical position; the prospects of ASEAN-led regional cooperation initiatives to contribute to greater stability across Asia; and options for the European Union to support ASEAN‘s stabilising role in Asia.