ASEAN’s uncertain stance in the South China Sea

This US Navy photo obtained November 4, 2015 shows the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71)as it transits the South China Sea on October 29, 2015. Theodore Roosevelt is operating in the US 7th Fleet area of operations as part of a worldwide deployment en route to its new homeport in San Diego to complete a three-carrier homeport shift.  US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said he would visit the American aircraft carrier in the South China Sea on November 5, 2015 as US-Chinese tensions over the waterway escalate. Speaking after a regional summit November 4, 2015, Carter said he would fly out to the nuclear-powered USS Theodore Roosevelt, which "is conducting routine operations while transiting the South China Sea".  AFP PHOTO/US NAVY/ Specialist 3rd Class Anthony N. Hilkowski  = RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO /US NAVY/ Specialist 3rd Class Anthony N. Hilkowski " - 

Author: Chau Bao Nguyen, University of East Anglia

After months of speculation, the USS Lassen sailed within 12 nautical miles of an artificial Chinese island on 27 October 2015. In doing so, it completed the first in a series of planned freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea (SCS). The operation is the strongest assertion yet by the US Navy that it rejects Chinese reclamation projects, which could escalate tensions in the region. Read more…

What does the Greek crisis mean for the AEC?

The flags of the ASEAN+3 nations fly for the opening day of the 25th ASEAN summit in Myanmar on 12 November 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Michael G. Plummer, The John Hopkins University

The Greek crisis has periodically dominated international headlines since 2009, when its economic and fiscal crunch led to a series of debt downgrades and ushered in fears of default. So what lessons does the crisis hold for the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC)? Read more…

ASEAN can survive great-power rivalry in Asia

A satellite image, issued by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) think tank, showing an airstrip under construction at Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands. (Photo: AFP)

Author: Amitav Acharya, American University

Pundits and policymakers increasingly see changing great-power politics in Asia as a challenge to ASEAN. China’s growing military assertiveness in the South China Sea, the US ‘rebalancing’ strategy, Japan’s moves to reinterpret its constitution, and India’s growing military presence and assertive diplomacy all press upon ASEAN’s choices in the region. Read more…

Banking on better SME financing in ASEAN

A rice shop owner counts money he earned at the biggest rice market in Jakarta, Indonesia, 9 September 2015. ASEAN countries should focus on improving commercial financing for small and medium enterprises to boost economic and jobs growth. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Ganeshan Wignaraja, Asian Development Bank

Concerns about moderating economic growth and rising income inequality in ASEAN economies have brought small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) into the policy limelight. Arguing that SMEs have significant potential for creating jobs, some commentators are suggesting a host of industrial policies such as financial subsidies and local content rules to promote SMEs. But this risks heavy-handed state intervention in SMEs. Read more…

Trade helps improve consumer protection in Southeast Asia

Thai office workers walk past advertising promoting the ASEAN Economic Community in Bangkok on 13 January 2013. The AEC is unlikely to be ready by its deadline. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Luke Nottage, University of Sydney

Significant legislative and practical challenges in enhancing consumer product safety law remain in many parts of Southeast Asia. But liberalising trade within ASEAN and with its outside trading partners has led to major progress in consumer protection standards. Read more…

Where to now for the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralisation?

An Indonesian employee prepares rupiah banknotes at a money changer in Jakarta, Indonesia, 25 August 2015. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Kaewkamol Pitakdumrongkit, RSIS

East Asian financial cooperation is at a crossroads. The Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralisation (CMIM) and its surveillance unit — the ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO) — are continuing to grow in size and importance. But the structure of these two entities must change to accommodate this growth.

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China aims to set the regional cooperation agenda

Indian soldiers spread a red carpet as they prepare for ceremonies on the Indian side of Nathu La Pass. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Chen Dongxiao, SIIS

In late October 2013, the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee held a conference of Diplomatic Work with Neighbouring Countries  in Beijing, where it unveiled new priorities under its New Neighbourhood Diplomacy guidelines. The new approach makes China’s neighbourhood, covering both continental and maritime Asia, the top strategic priority for the first time. Read more…