The Daily Beast: Thailand and ASEAN in Indo-Pacific Chessboard
My opinion on The Daily Beast
“The ratbag of dictators, autocrats and juntas that dominate ASEAN’s ranks perceive transparency, accountability, and rule of law as existential threats rather than foundations of good governance,” is the way Phelim Kine of Human Rights Watch has described the group.
Even so, the organization would prefer that Southeast Asia not become a Chinese redoubt, and would likely welcome a more robust American engagement. At the same time, says Kan Yuenyong, of the Siam Intelligence Unit, ASEAN could play the role of a mediator on behalf of North Korea in its ongoing nuclear-arms dispute with America, as well as a body that could help cool relations between the superpowers as they jockey for influence in Asia.
“I feel this is a long-term game between the United States and China; an overall chessboard in the Asia-Pacific, not just about the U.S. and Korea. There’s very deep geopolitical maneuvering going on and we have to understand this is a long game,” he says.
To show just how much of a pivot he is prepared to make in Southeast Asia, President Trump later this year will attend the U.S.-ASEAN summit and the East Asia summit in the Philippines, and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Vietnam.