Washington, D.C. — President Barack Obama is set to host the leaders of the 10 nations that make up the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, next week in California. The special summit shows the growing importance that ASEAN plays in shaping the economic and security landscape in the Asia-Pacific in the 21st century.
High on the agenda for the summit will be discussions about the disputes in the South China Sea, where China’s recent actions are creating tensions among the countries with sovereignty claims there. The Center for American Progress has released a column on the growing importance of ASEAN, recommending that the United States and other major powers should work toward a united and strong ASEAN and avoid using it as a proxy to advance competing interests in Southeast Asia.
“ASEAN was created to provide a buffer between the nations jockeying for power in the region during the Cold War,” said Michael Fuchs, a CAP Senior Fellow and the author of the column. “Now, as larger powers once again seek to advance their own interests in Southeast Asia, it is important that ASEAN maintain this critical independence as it works to maintain peace and prosperity. The Sunnylands summit—and the U.S. focus on boosting ties with ASEAN—will help strengthen ASEAN unity and the stability it brings to the region.”
Over the past few decades, ASEAN has grown into an influential bloc and has helped to bring economic growth to more than 600 million people who are living in regions that belong to ASEAN. The column argues that the United States and other regional powers must work to strengthen ASEAN, which will then enable ASEAN to provide a platform for the region to tackle its most pressing challenges.
Click here to read the column.
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