South East Asian heads of state descend on Sydney for ASEAN summit

South East Asian heads of state descend on Sydney for ASEAN summit

The summit will be held in a special format that includes active participation by Australia in this meeting, which is a ‘strategic partner’ but a non-member.

1501434042_why-southeast-asia-and-asean-are-a-strategic-problem

Photo: Reuters/Aaron Favila

Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull hosts the ten ASEAN heads of government in Sydney today, in a special format of the organisation that includes active participation by Australia in this meeting, which is a ‘strategic partner’ but a non-member.

ASEAN is facing uncertainty regarding the foreign and defence policies of regional hegemons China and the US. As a result, member states are being forced to coordinate internally on significant policy matters regarding North Korea, China’s maritime claims and a distracted US.

Additionally, the summit is taking place amidst the recent signing of the updated Trans-Pacific Partnership, which signatories had to restructure following US withdrawal last year. Australia will be looking to increasingly align its foreign, trade, and defence policies with ASEAN, and the summit is expected to be the first major show of Australia’s recently released foreign policy white paper.

Major ASEAN states such as Indonesia are likely to use the forum to push for Australia to be invited to apply for full membership in the organisation. The forum will likely see a shift in strategic and defence planning considering recent US indifference to the Indo-Pacific and increasingly aggressive territorial moves by China.

Start your day with an open-source intelligence briefing. Download The Daily Brief app.