News / Asia

ASEAN Summit Highlights Economic Gains, Political Growing Pains

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono delivers his speech during the opening ceremony of the 18th ASEAN Summit in Jakarta, May 7, 2011
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono delivers his speech during the opening ceremony of the 18th ASEAN Summit in Jakarta, May 7, 2011

Leaders of the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations began a two day summit in Jakarta Saturday. The organization has made progress in creating an economic trading block, but still faces great challenges in finding common ground on political and security matters.

All the ASEAN heads of state, with the exception of Singapore, are participating in the Jakarta summit. Singapore's prime minister stayed at home to await the results of the election there.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono opened the summit and endorsed ASEAN's recent efforts to mediate peace between two member states, Thailand and Cambodia, that have been fighting since February.

The two countries moved closer to ending an ongoing border conflict Friday, when both sides agreed in principle to accept 15 Indonesian observers in the conflict zone. Thai and Cambodia troops have been exchanging gun and artillery fire in a dispute over an area surrounding an ancient Hindu Khmer Temple that both countries claim.

President Yudhoyono also cited the challenges the region faces, such as soaring food and energy prices, the threat of terrorism and natural disasters that frequently strike in southeast Asia. He said ASEAN needs to become a more coherent and effective force to respond to these threats and maintain peace and stability in the region

The goal of the summit is to continue progress in making ASEAN an effective regional community with binding rules governing economic trade and political and security cooperation.

There has been strong support by all the leaders to create a unified economic trading block. Since 2010, ASEAN members have adhered to a free trade agreement with China, even though there have been some calls to modify the agreement to protect local industries from cheap Chinese imports.

But ASEAN members have been reluctant to enforce its own charter on issues of democracy development, protecting human rights and maintaining regional peace and security.

Carl Thayer is a southeast Asia political analyst with the University of New South Wales in Australia. While he credits Indonesia for its mediation efforts in the Thai-Cambodia conflict, he says ASEAN's inability to impose sanctions on member states that violate the organization's charter continues to limit its effectiveness.

And he says when it comes to mutual security issues, it is hard to see progress other than talk about humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, and improving border protection.

"At the moment we have meetings and meeting of officials and have firmed up the defense side by moving it from informal to formal, but there has been no [not] anything done jointly by ASEAN in the defense and security spheres. It is all bilateral, trilateral," said Thayer.

He says while ASEAN's plan for economic integration is on track, when it comes to political and defense issues, the organization is still in the talking stage.

You May Like

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

China to Open Stock Markets to Pension Funds

In unprecedented move, government to soon allow local pension funds to invest up to $94 billion in domestic shares More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs