Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Area Studies South East Asia

Area Studies
South East Asia
Foreign Policy Research Centre
New Delhi (India)
A) Interviews
1) Emeritus Professor Carl Thayer
The University of New South Wales at the
Australian Defence Force Academy, Canberra
(A) Interviews
1) Emeritus Professor Carl Thayer ( pp. 07-13)
2) Dr. Lipi Ghosh ( pp. 14-15)
(B) Articles :
Hang Nga ( pp. 16-29)
2) The Determinants of Population and Religion towards Economic Development
and Sustainable Environment: The Case of South East Asia
Dr. Nathan
Dr. SupapornChalapati &
Ms. ShagesheelaMurugasu ( pp. 30- 52)
3) Impact of the new international context on Vietnam and Vietnam’s policy
Huynh Thanh Loan ( pp. 53- 61)
4) Bilateral Trade Relations between India and ASEAN
Dr Monika Mandal ( pp. 62- 77)
5) Act East Policy:
India's Odyssey to the Indo-Pacific- Challenges and Opportunities
Simi Mehta ( pp. 78- 91)
6) "Horrors and Insanity":
Human trafficking still haunts South East Asia
Anant Mishra ( pp. 92- 96)
7) India and ASEAN
Aditi ( pp. 97- 101)
Email Interviews
1) Emeritus Professor Carl Thayer
The University of New South Wales at the
Australian Defence Force Academy, Canberra
Carl Thayer is Emeritus Professor of Politics at The University of New South Wales at the Australian Defence
Force Academy (ADFA) in Canberra and Director of Thayer Consultancy, a small business registered in
Australia in 2002 that provides political analysis of current regional security issues and other research support
to selected clients. He is also a columnist for The Diplomat, a consultant to Radio Free Asia, and member of the
editorial boards for the International Journal of China Studies, Journal for Social Sciences and Humanities, and
Contemporary Chinese Political Economy and Strategic Relations: An International Journal.
Professor Thayer was educated at Brown University in the United States (1967). He holds an M.A. in Southeast
Asian Studies from Yale (1971) and a PhD in International Relations from The Australian National University
(ANU, 1977). He studied Vietnamese language at Yale, Cornell and Southern Illinois University, Thai language
at The University of Missouri at Columbia, and Lao language at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.
Before embarking on an academic career, Carl served in Vietnam with the International Voluntary Services
(1967-68) and as a volunteer teacher in Botswana with the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (196869).
He began his professional career in 1976 as lecturer at the Bendigo Institute of Technology (renamed the
Bendigo College of Advanced Education). In 1979, he joined The University of New South Wales and taught first
in its Faculty of Military Studies at The Royal Military College-Duntroon (1979-85) and then at University
College, ADFA (1986-2010). He served as Head of the School of Politics from 1995-97. In 1998, he was
promoted to full Professor and Emeritus Professor in 2010.
Carl has served three major periods away from UNSW@ADFA. From 1992-95, he was seconded to the
Regime Change and Regime Maintenance Project, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, ANU. From
1999-2002, he was granted ‘leave in the national interest’ to take up the position of Professor of Southeast
Asian Security Studies and Deputy Chair of the Department of Regional Studies at the U.S. Defense Department’s
Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, U.S. Pacific Command, Hawaii. From 2002 to 2004, he was seconded to
Deakin University as On Site Academic Co-ordinator of the semopr Defence and Strategic Studies Course at the
Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies (CDSS) at the Australian Defence College. He later directed Regional
Security Studies at the Australian Command and Staff College (2007-08 and 2010).
Professor Thayer has spent special study leave at the ANU’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre; Harvard’s
Center for International Affairs; International Institute of Strategic Studies in London; Institute of Strategic and
International Studies, Chulalongkorn University in Thailand; Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore;
and the Department of Political Science at Yale. In 2005, he was the C. V. Starr Distinguished Visiting Professor
of Southeast Asian Studies at The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins
University in Washington, D.C. In 2008, he was the inaugural Frances M. and Stephen H. Fuller Distinguished
Visiting Professor at the Center of Southeast Asian Studies, Ohio University.
As a Subject Matter Expert Professor Thayer was invited to address the 2nd Expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum
in Da Nang, Viet Nam in 2014 and the following year he was invited to address the ASEAN-China Joint Working
Group on the Implementation of the DOC Seminar-Workshop on the Implementation of the 2002
ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC-SCS) in Manila, The
Philippines. In April 2015, he was appointed Eminent Person by the Department of Defence Australian
CivilMilitary Centre, to facilitate the East Asia Summit Rapid Disaster Response: Lessons Learned Seminar held
in Sydney in September that was attended by senior officials from fifteen countries.
Professor Thayer is the author of over five hundred academic publications covering domestic politics in
Vietnam, foreign policy, defence and security issues in Southeast Asia, and the role of China, Russia and the
United States in regional affairs.
Recent publications include:
“China’s Naval Modernization and U.S. Strategic Rebalancing: Implications for Stability in the South China
Sea,” in C. J. Jenner and Tran Truong Thuy, eds., The South China Sea: A Crucible of Regional Cooperation or
Conflict-making Sovereignty Claims? Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016. 223-240.
“Managing Security Tensions in the South China Sea: The Role of ASEAN,” in David Brewster ed., Indo-Pacific
Maritime Security: Challenges and Cooperation (Canberra: National Security College, Crawford School of
Public Policy, ANU College of the Asia & the Pacific, The Australian National University, 2016), 25-30.
“The Militarisation of the South China Sea,” in Asia-Pacific Regional Security Assessment 2016: Key
Developments and Trends (London and Singapore: International Institute of Security Studies, 2016), 55-72.
“Not Too Hot, Not Too Cold: A Vietnamese Perspective on China-US Relations,” in Bo Zhiyue, ed., China-US
Relations in Global Perspective (Wellington: Victoria University Press, 2016), 215-238.
“Southeast Asia’s Regional Autonomy Under Stress,” in Malcolm Cook and Daljit Singh, eds. Southeast Asian
Affairs 2016 (Singapore: Yusof Ishak Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2016), 3-18.
“US Rebalancing Strategy and Australia’s Response: Business as Usual,” in David W. F. Huang, ed., Asia Pacific
Countries and the US Rebalancing Strategy. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016. 175-191.
“Vietnam’s Strategy of ‘Cooperating and Struggling’ with China over Maritime Disputes in the South China Sea,”
Journal of Asian Security and International Affairs, 3(2), 2016, 200-220.
“Weak States and Strong Societies in Southeast Asia,” in Amin Saikal, ed., Weak States, Strong Societies: Power
and Authority in The New World Order. London and New York: I. B. Tarus & Co. Ltd, 2016, 149-172.)
Interview with Emeritus Professor Carl Thayer
Q1. How far do you agree with the assessment that ASEAN remains by and large an
intergovernmental organisation rather than an instance of regional integration along the lines
of the EU?
ANSWER: The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) is an intergovernmental
organization that promotes regional integration but not along the more structured lines of the
European Union. At the end of 2015 ASEAN declared the formation of an ASEAN Community
based on three pillars: the political-security community, the economic community and the sociocultural
community. Under the ASEAN Charter that came into force these three communities
were formally structured into three separate councils comprised of relevant ministers. The three
councils reported to the Consultative Council headed by the foreign ministers that in turn
reported to the ASEAN Summit of heads of state and government.
ASEAN decision-making is by consensus and there has been no pooling of sovereignty by
ASEAN member states. The ASEAN Economic Community promotes regional economic
integration through a free trade area and a lowering of tariffs. But it is not a customs union.
Q2. ASEAN will have major economic clout and thus will be wooed but it is not going to have
independent power per se. Do you agree?
ANSWER: ASEAN has economic heft as a market of 625 million people with a combined Gross
Domestic Product of U.S. $2.4 trillion. It is also the third fastest GDP growth rate in Asia after
China and India. Power may be viewed into two dimensions positive and negative. Positive
power is the ability to promote and achieve objectives through political and diplomatic influence.
Negative power is the ability to compel a state or an international institution to desist from
pursuing policies that are harmful to ASEAN’s interests.
ASEAN exercises its positive power through its network of dialogue and sectoral parties, and
strategic partnerships with major powers, including the ASEAN Plus Three (China, Japan and
South Korea).
ASEAN has positive power to the extent that it promotes Southeast Asia’s regional autonomy
and ASEAN’s centrality in the region’s political, diplomatic and security architecture such as the
ASEAN Regional Forum, the Expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum, the ASEAN Defence Ministers’
Meeting Plus and the East Asia Summit. ASEAN’s positive power is encapsulated in the term
The ASEAN Way comprising a set of unwritten norms:
• Equality, respect for national sovereignty and territorial integrity
• Non-interference in internal affairs
• Renunciation of force/threat of force
• Inclusive dialogue and consultation
• Decision-making by consensus, and
• Decision-making at a pace comfortable to all.
But ASEAN’s positive power has its limits. This is well illustrated in its handling of maritime
disputes in the South China Sea from 1992, when ASEAN issued its first statement of concern, to
the present. ASEAN can withhold its support from initiatives with which it disagrees. ASEAN
cannot compel China or any other major power from taking unilateral action in the South China
Q3. The ASEAN members pay more attention to their domestic affairs than to the regional
cooperation. In recent years, domestic politics reigns supreme behind the balancing acts of
Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia and Vietnam, among others, in their engagement
with China and the US. How far has it weakened ASEAN as a regional organisation?
ANSWER: The historical record is mixed. Stable countries, regardless of their domestic political
systems, have played a positive role in promoting ASEAN unity such as Singapore, Indonesia’s
New Order under President Suharto (1966-1998), and Thailand (pre-2001). Vietnam has likewise
played a strong and positive role in ASEAN’s development and, arguably, is making a more
important contribution to ASEAN’s development today than some of ASEAN’s original five
It is also true that instability in Thailand (red v yellow shirts and military intervention), Indonesia
(under President Jokowi), Malaysia (the 1MDB scandal), Cambodia (1997 internal ‚coup‛),
Myanmar (military rule and transition to democracy since 1997) has resulted in a greater domestic
focus and less attention to ASEAN. But Thailand, despite its internal problems, played a
constructive role as ASEAN country-coordinator for China (2012-15).
It is also clear that the rise of China and its increased economic influence across Southeast Asia
has impacted on negatively on ASEAN unity and cohesion. Cambodia under Hun Sen is nothing
less than a Chinese surrogate. This was demonstrated in November 2012 when Cambodia, as
ASEAN Chair, prevented any reference critical of China’s actions in the South China Sea from
appearing in the customary Chair’s Statement. Consequently, for the first time in ASEAN’s
history no statement was issued. In June 2016, Cambodia broke ranks with its fellow ASEAN
members at the ASEAN-China Special Foreign Ministers Meeting in Kunming. This prevented
ASEAN from reaching consensus on the sensitive issue of the South China Sea and ASEAN’s
inability to explain this debacle detracted from its prestige.
ASEAN weakness is in the eye of the beholder. For example, senior Singapore diplomat Bilahari
Kausikan once observed that ASEAN is a cow, not a horse. And Kishore Mabubani recently
compared ASEAN role as a neutral ground for the major powers as a delicate Ming vase that
could be easily broken. ASEAN views itself in positive terms and argues that The ASEAN Way
has prevented major armed conflict among its members for the past fifty years.
Q4. How far is it correct to say that India has its own interests in the ASEAN region and that
India will not take any position that might put its own foreign policy in jeopardy--especially
vis a vis China?
ANSWER: India has its own long-standing interests in Southeast Asia extending back to the 1950s
when it chaired the tripartite International Control Committee to overseas the settlement of the
first Indochina War between France and Vietnam. India developed more extensive interests in
the region as an ASEAN dialogue partner and through Prime Minister Rao’s Look East Policy,
and more specifically through Prime Minster Modi’s Act East Policy. India has developed
especially close ties with Vietnam. India’s grant of two lines of credit totaling U.S. $600 million to
Vietnam to build up its maritime security capacity is an illustration that India is willing to act
independently of China’s wishes. India’s investment in Vietnam’s oil and gas sector in Vietnam’s
Exclusive Economic Zone is another indicator that India will pursue its interests even in the face
of Chinese criticism. Some Indian strategic analysts refer to Vietnam and India’s ‚Pakistan.‛
As long as China and India have a conflict over their land border there will be a source of tension
in their bilateral relations. In September 2014, for example, a sizeable force of Chinese force of
troop and vehicles reportedly crossed the Line of Control into Indian territory on the eve of
President Xi Jinping’s visit. At that time India was expecting to receive a large commitment from
China to invest in infrastructure. India was disappointed when Xi’s visit failed to live up to
expectations. The extent to which Indian policy makers are concerned about China was reflected
in the decision this year not to invite Australia to participate in the Malabar naval exercises.
India seeks strategic autonomy while at the same time developing new relations with the United
States and Japan. Japan and India’s promotion of an informal coalition of democracies is a sign
that India is prepared to act independently.
Q5. South China Sea conflict threatens to divide ASEAN members between those involved in
the South China Sea conflict, and those members with nothing at stake and who wish to keep
good relations with China. If ASEAN falls into disharmony and irrelevance over this dispute,
the whole idea of ‚ASEAN centrality‛ or ASEAN-centered efforts to build East Asian
regionalism, could collapse. How far do you agree with this viewpoint?
ANSWER: ASEAN members may be divided into two broad groups the claimant states (Brunei,
Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam) and the non-claimant states (Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos,
Myanmar, Singapore and Thailand). The claimant states can be sub-divided into front line states
and other claimant states. While ASEAN has been deeply divided on the South China Sea issue
there is evidence that in 2016, after the ruling by the Arbitral Tribunal hearing the case brought
by the Philippines against China, that ASEAN formed consensus. The election of Rodrigo Duterte
as President of the Philippines, and his decision to set aside the Award, ended a period of
estrangement between Beijing and Manila. All ASEAN members have assiduously avoided
specifically mentioning the Arbitral Tribunal and its Award preferring instead to use the term
‚respect for legal and diplomatic processes.‛
Singapore’s strong role as ASEAN country coordinator for China at the 2016 China-ASEAN
Special Foreign Ministers Meeting in Kunming in 2016 arguably led China to suddenly announce
that it would work with ASEAN to reach a draft Framework for the Code of Conduct in the South
China Sea by mid-2017. At ASEAN’s 30th Summit in Manila in April 2017 the media reported
heated argument about the wording of the Chair’s draft statement. Consensus was reached and
the South China Sea section was watered down from eight to two paragraphs. The Chair’s
Statement accentuated the positive including mentioning the ‚early harvest‛ of the
operationalization of the Guidelines for Hotline Communications and the adoption of the Code
of Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES) in the South China Sea. ASEAN and China are now
poised to focus their discussion on implementing the 2002 Declaration on Conduct of Parties in
the South China Sea and moving from the Draft Framework of the COC to consultation on the
actual text of the COC.
While discussions between China and ASEAN may drag on for an extended period, one senior
ASEAN official commented to this author ‚the journey is more important than the destination.‛
ASEAN is comfortable with forging consensus and working as a pace comfortable to all. As long
as China is satisfied with the process ASEAN unity is not imperiled.
Q6. Southeast Asia as nothing more than a battleground for Washington and Beijing in their
strategic competition with each other. Do you agree?
ANSWER: Relations between Beijing and Washington are best characterized as a mix of
cooperation and competitive rivalry. So far, the Trump Administration has, with one exception,
been all words and no action in Southeast Asia. The one exception was the resumption of a single
freedom of navigation operational patrol by the USS Dewey in May this year.
President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Trans Pacific Partnership
(TPP) effectively removed the economic leg from President Obama’s strategy of rebalancing to
the Asia Pacific. The Trump Administration later hosted a meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers
in Washington to enlist their help in combating the proliferation of nuclear weapons on the
Korean peninsula. Because of the salience of the Korean issue, the U.S. and China are
coordinating their approaches towards implementing UN sanctions on the Kim Jong-un regime.
There is no sign that Southeast Asia has become a battlefield between Beijing and China because
has left the initiative to China. There are straws in the wind that this may change, however. The
US and Japan have conducted joint naval exercises and both received Vietnam’s Prime Minister,
Nguyen Xuan Phuc, and pledged to support maritime security capacitybuilding. And defence
ministers the U.S., Australia and Japan all put on record their support for a rules-based
international order and decried coercion and intimidation in remarks aimed at China.
The U.S. Congress has mandated that an incoming administration must submit a U.S. National
Security Strategy within 120 days of taking office. Obviously, the Trump Administration has
missed this deadline. Nevertheless, a National Security Strategy will emerge and this will give
birth to a U.S. Maritime Strategy. This will be the litmus test for strategic relations between the
United States and China.
Q7. There is fundamental decline in US interests, capacities or role in Southeast Asia.Is it
unsurprising that Southeast Asian nations are biting their nails over its staying power in the
region - and looking for alternatives?
ANSWER: Fundamental U.S. national interests in Southeast Asia have not changed. The South
China Sea remains a vital waterway for commerce and the transit of U.S. military ships and
aircraft. U.S. trade, and more importantly, investment constitute other U.S. national interests in
the region. The U.S. and Vietnam have agreed to address the latter’s U.S. $5 billion trade surplus
with the United States. While frayed, Thailand and the Philippines both remain U.S. treaty allies.
Singapore is a strategic partner.
Vice President Mike Pence visited Indonesia and Australia in April. The United States hosted a
meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers in Washington on 5 May. President Trump received Prime
Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc from Vietnam in the Oval Office at The White House on 31 May.
Trump also invited the leaders of the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand to visit Washington.
Trump has stated that he will attend the APEC Summit in Vietnam and the ASEAN Summit in
the Philippines later this year. Defense Secretary James Mattis addressed this year’s Shangri-La
Dialogue in June.
The bottom line is that the President Trump has provoked heightened strategic uncertainty across
the region due to his unpredictability and transactional approach to issues. However, Trump
Administration senior officials are quietly passing the message to look at what American does
not what its president tweets. Hedging behavior by regional states is not new. What is taking
place is that Japan, India and Australia, separately and in informal ways are taking up the
strategic slack engendered by President Trump until his administration finds its feet.
(26 June 2017)

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