Is “Not Taking Sides” a Viable Option for ASEAN?

    Date 19 February 2020
    Time 10:00 am
    Venue Conference Room, ISIS Malaysia
    Status Free Admission

    Presentation by
    Dr Tang Siew Mun
    Head, ASEAN Studies Centre
    ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute

    ASEAN’s response to the increasing fraught major power rivalry is “not taking sides.” Beyond the diplomatic musings that provides the theoretical underpinnings of this position, it is unclear how this position translates into actionable policies, not least because ASEAN is facing increasing pressure from the major powers to choose sides. This seminar draws on the results of State of Southeast Asia 2020 survey to shed light on how Southeast Asian elites view the major powers. Who does the region look to for leadership? Which major power is most trusted by Southeast Asians? Who can ASEAN turn to in the face of China’s increasing assertiveness and the US’ persistence “absenteeism?” Can Japan step up? Will the European Union measure up? Will India show up? Understanding the “trust factor” provides yet another rationale for ASEAN member states not to align themselves with any of the major powers, while providing some insights on ASEAN’s strategic options. The region’s trust (or lack thereof) on China, the US, Japan, India and the EU will have profound implications on the evolving regional balance of power and stability.


    Download the full Survey Report here

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