The grouping needs to focus on five areas to be a more effective ‘manager’ of the regional order.
Most discussions on regional security in South-east Asia of late have tended to focus on the nature, characteristics and impact of the rivalry between the United States and China. Every country in the region faces a serious challenge on how to navigate the rivalry and manage its negative implications.
As the region becomes the theatre for the quest for primacy, the most pressing strategic problem for Asean is that the US-China rivalry might undermine the unity, centrality and relevance of the grouping. Asean is right to feel anxious about the future of its self-assigned role as “the manager” – albeit in a diplomatic sense – of the regional order.
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