Security Challenges
Volume 16, No.3 (2020)

ASEAN Centrality and Indonesian Leadership in a Contested Indo-Pacific Order

The Asia-Pacific, reconceptualised as the ‘Indo-Pacific’, in recognition of Beijing’s strategic reach into the Indian Ocean and East Africa, as well as the demographic, political and economic significance of Indian Ocean states, demands new visions and modalities of cooperation to sustain regional stability and prosperity. Located at the crossroads of a two ocean system, the conceptions and agency of Southeast Asian states in regional political affairs matter. Maintaining the prerogative for shaping the emerging architecture, norms and cooperative initiatives of the Indo-Pacific region is of vital importance to Indonesia, lest external powers seek to bypass ASEAN altogether. Indonesia’s exercise of diplomatic initiative and leadership, albeit belated, has seen ASEAN regain the driver’s seat on the vision for the emerging Indo-Pacific order. However, critical questions remain about ASEAN’s unity and resolve.

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