This Sunday, Indonesia takes the lead in ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. What will be the main challenges for the alliance in 2023 at regional and international level?
ASEAN brings together ten Member States and soon to be 11, with the upcoming integration of the East Timor. This is an important and rare event for the association because the last time a country joined ASEANit was Cambodia in 1999. The second big stake for the bloc is the burmese question. Since the military coup in February 2021, the country has been plunged into chaos. Will the association manage, under Indonesian leadership, to find a common position to put an end to the violence? The question still remains.
The other challenge for Asean, at the international level this time, is the posture that the association will take in the face of Sino-American rivalry. Torn between security dependence vis-à-vis the United States and economic dependence vis-à-vis China, member countries must find the right balance and circumvent these difficulties even though they are subject to very strong pressure from both powers.
Two large blocks, but not only
” What we see taking shape today is this rivalry between the two big blocs, the United States and China. But there is also a sort of soft underbelly and a very large number of countries which do not want to be drawn into this rivalry, which do not want to be exploited by one or other of the great powers and which want to affirm their singularity. . Asean is part of this group, and Indonesia is particularly inclined to push this posture “, analyzes Françoise Nicolas, researcher and director of the Asia Center of the French Institute of International Relations (Ifri).
As a regional bloc, ASEAN has an important role to play in global geopolitical reorganization. ” In reality, there is a will to lead its own way. It is the maintenance of multilateralism, and as far as Indonesia and ASEAN are concerned, in its wake, it is to make the voice of the global southof a sort of “Third World”. Third world, in the sense of a world different from the other two blocs or the two other great powers “, continues Françoise Nicolas.
Indonesia has a role to play
What direction will the bloc take under the impetus of Joko Widodo, the Indonesian president who achieved international stature with the successful summit of the G20 in Bali last November? Can we expect major changes? ” I think Indonesia may have a role to play, and they played that role in the G20. Since finally, within the G20, in the final declaration after the Bali summit, what was heard was that there was another path than the Chinese path, on the one hand, or the American one, of the ‘other. So there is a possibility despite everything to involve other actors in global governance “, continues Ms. Nicolas.
The final challenge for Asean countries is that of post-pandemic economic recovery. Even if in a very degraded world economic climate, the Association is doing well, the difficulties that the Chinese giant is going through will not make its task any easier. Consolidating the recovery therefore looks more difficult than expected.
Asia is the region of the world that can do relatively well from an economic point of view.
Françoise Nicolas, Researcher and Director of the Asia Center at Ifri