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Examining the Geopolitical Takeaways From the Southeast Asia Summits



Chinese President Xi Jinping’s wife Peng Li Yuan (left) thanks her after Thai Prime Minister Prayut (second from right) and Prime Minister Naraporn Chan-ocha (second from left) present her with a cake to celebrate A birthday watched by Xi (right), who represents the meaning of. / Photo of Thai Government Buildings via Bangkok Post

To Titinan Ponsdirac November 26, 2022

Southeast Asia’s summit season has delivered lessons while de-escalating geopolitical tensions and highlighting risks that could lead to future global conflicts.East Asia Summit (EAS) in Phnom Penh, Bali Three major summits of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the G20 in Bangkok, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in Bangkok have also demonstrated that the 2020-21 COVID-19 pandemic has been virtually overcome. Because face-to-face meetings have fully resumed. Overall, the three hosts left various highlights.

Indeed, it will take years, if ever, for the three Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) nations to host these three summits back-to-back. ASEAN-related summits featuring the EAS are held annually in Southeast Asia on a rotating basis, and APEC is held biennially in the region, but the G20 rarely meets as Indonesia is the only member of ASEAN. It’s amazing that these three summits coincided in Southeast Asia this month.

These face-to-face summits were also a reminder of the nature of the human condition and the imperative of interpersonal communication. All countries have reopened. Although the two-year pandemic hiatus from face-to-face meetings did not trigger the global tensions we are seeing, from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to the US-China conflict. , certainly did not foster face-to-face communication and better understanding.. Personal in nature, these meetings of leaders are always positive in global politics. In effect, you can pull out key players and country highlights.

Cambodia’s leadership in the EAS and other ASEAN-related summits has largely been successful. Prime Minister Hun Sen, his ASEAN presidency this year, has used the opportunity to hone his position as a politician. The fact that he has deftly and systematically subverted the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party in recent years helped pave the way for Hun Sen’s summit. With full signs of a persistent electoral dictatorship in the country, the Cambodian strongman has been able to focus on his foreign policy legacy and political competence. Thailand this year co-sponsored and endorsed two major UN resolutions condemning Russia’s aggression against the Ukrainian people and its subsequent annexation of the country’s east, but Thailand supported the former motion and shamefully abstained from the latter.

A key takeaway in Phnom Penh may have been the ‘3.0’ upgraded version of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement beyond its first iteration more than a decade ago and Beijing’s recent proposal for a regional comprehensive economic partnership. I have. The geo-economic maneuver proposed by Premier Li Keqiang appears well crafted to outperform the US Indo-Pacific economic framework. A conspicuous stain on Phnom Penh is ASEAN’s failure to do anything constructive about waging a heinous war against Myanmar’s military regime and its own people.

Overall, the summit season was that of Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo. President Widodo bet his confidence earlier this year by personally visiting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin. He could reap dividends from geopolitical investments by providing a platform for Zelensky to state peace terms and for the first official presidential meeting between Joe Biden and Xi Jinping The conciliatory Xi-Biden tete-a-tete has significantly lowered temperatures in both countries. Xi Jinping and Biden have agreed that while their superpower rivalry is long-term, neither side intends outright confrontation.

Among numerous collateral and bilateral meetings, the Xi-Biden meeting was the crowning achievement of the summit season. Additionally, G20 leaders were able to issue a joint statement, setting the tone for APEC and condemning Russia’s war on Ukraine. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov didn’t even leave the room in the process.

For APEC, the main deliverables were 23 declarations by 21 Member States. The third point reinforced a UN resolution condemning Russia, in line with what G20 leaders agreed in Bali. Bangkok’s goal for a Bio-Circular Green (BCG) Economy, proposed and promoted by the Thai host government, is another highlight along the lines of resilience, sustainability and inclusiveness. , representing low and non-opposite commonalities. An overlooked achievement in Bangkok was the opportunity for President Xi Jinping to hold his first fruitful meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, which will be followed up at a senior level.

For the Thai government, the highlight of domestic consumption may have been the individual royal audiences between His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn and each APEC leader, with the exception of representatives from Hong Kong and Chinese Taipei, who were introduced in tandem. Hmm. This effort may have included scheduling a reorganization to clear the deck for activity on the evening of Friday 18 November. Tea scheduled for Friday has thus become lunch on Saturday.

President Xi Jinping may have been upset that his timetable had been cheated, but the host made up for it by throwing a birthday celebration for the Chinese leader’s wife over lunch. Marshal Prayuth and senior government officials and business leaders saw Mr. Xi and his wife repeatedly waving and bowing next to a waiting Air China plane. When the torch passes to the US as host next year, for Prayuth, how the former general will turn the APEC results into a political move as Thailand gears up for general elections that must be held by early May. All the attention is focused on how to change. latest.

For the key players involved, Hun Sen will gain personal prestige by spearheading ASEAN and its related summits, while Jokowi will benefit from the momentum of the G20 heading into 2023 as the next ASEAN presidency. . Potential Domestic Dividends.

Among the major countries, Russia was the loser. Little is remembered of Russia’s attendance at these meetings, which President Putin was forced to be absent from altogether. For China, President Xi’s re-engagement and overseas trips to top meetings after winning his 5-year presidency for a third term have meant that despite persistent pandemic problems at home, the It suggests that Beijing’s geopolitical strategy to regain greatness is intact and on track.

For the US, Biden’s absence in APEC was felt. Had US leaders been in Bangkok, President Xi would not have been able to attract attention so easily. This shows why the United States, represented by both Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, has continued to repeat the regional message of “stay here.” As Xi indicated, China is “here, the era.” That’s something Washington will consider next year when the election cycle isn’t preoccupied.

Thitinan Pongsudhirak is Professor and Director of Institute of Security and International Studies, Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University. in Bangkok.

This article first appeared on bangkok post.

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