The most recent ASEAN Summit is being hosted by Indonesian President Joko Widodo and is rife with contentious issues that reflect the difficulties Southeast Asian leaders face. This article explores the summit’s main themes, the absence of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, the effects of these developments on the geopolitics of the area, and the significance of ASEAN.
The ongoing civil unrest in Myanmar is among the most urgent issues that were covered at the conference. Since the military overthrew Aung San Suu Kyi’s democratically elected government more than two years ago, the nation has been engulfed in unrest. The inability of ASEAN to resolve the violations of human rights in Myanmar raises concerns about the effectiveness of the group.
South China Sea Disputes
New flare-ups in the South China Sea keep the area on edge, escalating tensions among ASEAN countries. The difficulties in settling territorial disputes are exemplified by the recent incident in which a Chinese coast guard ship blocked a Philippine supply boat.
United States-China Rivalry
The summit is made much more complicated by the long-standing rivalry between the US and China. President Biden is a frequent participant at ASEAN summits, thus his absence raises questions about the region’s strategic significance to the United States. These superpowers’ antagonism has progressively seeped into ASEAN politics.
The Role of ASEAN
The founding principles of ASEAN, which was established in 1967, call for non-interference in the internal affairs of member states and consensus-based decision-making. While these beliefs have drawn a varied membership, they have also constrained the organization’s ability to act decisively, particularly in situations where crimes are being sanctioned by the government.
According to some commentators, President Biden’s absence from ASEAN meetings has highlighted the organization’s waning influence on regional concerns. They assert that ASEAN’s crucial position in Asian diplomacy is being undermined by member states’ reliance on either the United States or China for security.
The U.S.’s sustained involvement in the Indo-Pacific area is highlighted by the approaching G20 summit in India and President Biden’s trip to Vietnam. While tackling urgent problems within its borders, ASEAN must contend with shifting geopolitical realities.
Unresolved conflicts, territorial disputes, and great power competition are the backdrop for the ASEAN Summit in Jakarta. President Biden’s absence emphasizes how important it is for ASEAN to demonstrate its importance in tackling local problems. The leaders of the area must traverse these complicated challenges as the summit progresses and seek to come up with solutions that encourage peace and collaboration in Southeast Asia.