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Adoption of Indo-Pacific outlook reflects ASEAN centrality

The adoption of an ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific (AOPI) at the 34th ASEAN Summit in Bangkok in June has sent a clear message to extra-regional powers that ASEAN centrality should never be forgotten, said an Indonesian diplomat.

Speaking at CSIS Lecture Series on Regional Dynamics themed “Indonesia, ASEAN and the Indo-Pacific: Strategic necessities or norm-setting exercise?” in Jakarta on August 28, Ambassador to the UK Rizal Sukma, who is also member of the International Maritime Organisation, said one of ASEAN’s strength since its inception in 1967 has been its ability to survive the power play among great powers.

Yet, as the world enters the third decade of the 21st century, the strategic challenges facing the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) now are different from the past, he said, adding that different challenges require different responses.

Today, ASEAN finds itself in completely new terrain. The world is undergoing profound changes, with the old being dismantled and the new yet to emerge, he said.

He said AOPI is expected to help maintain ASEAN’s centrality in the evolving architecture in Southeast Asia and adjacent regions, and serve as a bridge in a competitive environment.

With the adoption of the outlook, Indonesia and other nine members of ASEAN promptly should seize this opportunity to cooperate in economic development, ensuring security, especially maritime security, and proving their roles in the regional architecture with powers outside the region, he suggested.