ASEAN contributes to regional peace, cooperation and development

On the occasion of the 55th anniversary of the ASEAN (August 8, 1967 - 2022), Ambassadors of ASEAN countries and the Association’s partners shared about the achievements of cooperation between the two sides, contributing to maintaining peace, stability, cooperation and sustainable development throughout the region.

US Ambassador to Vietnam Marc Evans Knapper
US Ambassador to Vietnam Marc Evans Knapper

US Ambassador to Vietnam Marc Evans Knapper: Launching a new era in ASEAN-US relations

ASEAN centrality is the very heart of President Biden’s Administration’s strategy to see an Indo-Pacific that is free and open, connected, prosperous, resilient and secure. The US firmly supports the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific – ASEAN’s vision for its future.The US welcomes a strong and independent ASEAN that leads in Southeast Asia; endorses ASEAN centrality and supports ASEAN in its efforts to deliver sustainable solutions to the region’s most pressing challenges.

Since becoming dialogue partners in 1977, the US and ASEAN have marked significant milestones, especially since the announcement of a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership at the Special Summit. Starting in the early 1990s, the US-ASEAN development cooperation increased dramatically through the launch of economic programmes focusing on trade and investment, technology transfer, and education. In 2008, the US became the first non-ASEAN country to name an ASEAN ambassador. In 2011, the US became the first non-ASEAN country to establish a dedicated mission to ASEAN in Jakarta.

The pace of US-ASEAN relations grew as the two sides elevated the relationship to a Strategic Partnership in 2015, and the US hosted the first US-ASEAN Summit in 2016.

We have evolved from exchanging views on political and security issues to being the number-one investment partner for ASEAN member countries, working closely with regional partners as we develop our vision of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), to advance resilience, inclusiveness, and competitiveness for our economies; and contributing to more regional cooperation, peace, stability, prosperity, and sustainable development.

Our increasing partnership comes with real-world benefits, including Asia Maritime Security Initiative to improve maritime cooperation and uphold international law to resolve the geopolitical challenge and the launch of the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention Southeast Asia Regional Office that Vice President Kamala Harris announced in August 2021 in Hanoi.

As the President has stated, we are not only celebrating 45 years of partnership and friendship between ASEAN and the US, but we are also launching a new era in US-ASEAN relations. This can be seen from the fact that the two sides held a special summit to celebrate the 45th anniversary of ASEAN-US relations in Washington and pledged to establish a comprehensive strategic partnership by the end of this year.

I was honoured to welcome Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and his delegation during his trip to the US for the historic US-ASEAN Special Summit – the first ever to be hosted in Washington, D.C. We also hope to upgrade our bilateral relationship with Vietnam. Our Indo-Pacific Strategy and Indo-Pacific Economic Framework make clear that this partnership and Vietnam are central to our engagement in this vital region.

Overall, I expect continued high-level engagements, cooperation on strategic issues, and working together to seize tremendous opportunities for us to deepen and expand collaboration to achieve our mutual goals: rebuilding global supply chains; accelerating clean energy transition and sustainable growth; addressing the crisis in Myanmar; developing the digital economy in line with global best practices and bringing world-class US products and services to Vietnam and ASEAN, to support a free and open, connected, prosperous, resilient and secure Indo-Pacific.

Japanese Ambassador to Vietnam Yamada Takio: Bringing Japan-ASEAN relations to a new level

Located at the heart of the vast Indo-Pacific region, ASEAN plays an important role in realising Japan’s Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) strategy. In particular, the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP) document adopted by the Association in 2019 shares common ground with FOIP on fundamental principles, such as freedom, openness and the rule of law. Japan attaches great importance to the unity of ASEAN, as well as the central role of the Association throughout the region. Japan and ASEAN have implemented specific cooperation plans, contributing to the implementation of the principles set out in the AOIP, thereby contributing to the stability and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region.

Establishing an informal dialogue partnership in 1973, Japan and ASEAN became official dialogue partners in 1977. In 2023, Japan and ASEAN will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the partnership. On this occasion, the two sides plan to hold a special summit to review the achievements of the friendship and cooperation between the two sides over the past half-century. Japan and ASEAN will also promote discussions to set the direction for the strategic partnership and the vision of cooperation in the future.

Vietnam plays an important role in promoting dialogue between Japan and ASEAN. Japan highly appreciated Vietnam’s contributions as a coordinator of Japan-ASEAN relations during the 2018-2021 period. Vietnam and Japan are important partners of each other, sharing many strategic interests and having great potential, not only in bilateral cooperation but also in regional and international cooperation. In November 2021, the two countries issued a Joint Statement toward a new stage of the Extensive Strategic Partnership for Peace and Prosperity in Asia.

Accordingly, the scope of cooperation between the two countries is promoted in political, security and economic cooperation, as well as in regional and international affairs. The two countries have made significant progress in each area. 2023 is an important year, marking the 50th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between Japan and Vietnam. The two countries will look back on the past half-century, and at the same time further promote bilateral cooperation. I hope that, based on the strengthening of strategic links and cooperation between the two countries, 2023 will be a historic opportunity to bring Japan-ASEAN relations, as well as Japan-Vietnam relations, to a new height.

Indonesian Ambassador to Vietnam Denny Abdi: ASEAN continues its role as an anchor for stability and peace

Since its establishment, ASEAN has significantly contributed to the development of a rule-based and inclusive community throughout the region. We have witnessed a drastic transformation internally and in relation to other countries or organisations. The establishment of the ASEAN Community in 2015 was a substantial step toward regional integration. The Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) served as a set of fundamental principles to govern regional inter-state relations and promote peace and cooperation based on mutual respect, non-interference principle, and peaceful settlement of disputes.

One of the most notable achievements of ASEAN is preserving peace and stability in the region. In addition, ASEAN consistently maintained the East Sea/South China Sea as a sea of peace and cooperation through the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in 2002, and keep advancing the Code of Conduct (COC) negotiation.

ASEAN, the fifth largest economy in the world, is a growth engine for the region and the world. Moreover, the RCEP, the world’s most comprehensive free-trade agreement, entered into force last January and will also contribute to global post-pandemic recovery efforts. Furthermore, the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community has contributed to developing a people-centred ASEAN Community that is resilient, inclusive, harmonious, and proud of its identity, culture, and heritage.

During the 37th ASEAN Summit in 2020, ASEAN adopted the Narrative of ASEAN Identity that aims to strengthen the bond of the ASEAN people. ASEAN has built a mechanism to further foster cooperation within ASEAN as well as with its external partners. With a sizable potential market, human resources and a solid foundation of a rules-based community, ASEAN has strengthened its capacity to address pop-up issues throughout the region.

Amidst these challenging times, it becomes more critical for ASEAN to step up efforts to strengthen its unity and centrality. Only then can ASEAN remain relevant to continue its role as an anchor for stability, peace, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific Region.

ASEAN must be more adaptive to carry out reforms to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of the organisation, including in its decision-making process. Therefore, Indonesia consistently encourages the High-Level Task Force to strengthen ASEAN’s institutionalisation as an integral part of the ASEAN Community's Post-2025 Vision discussion. Indonesia also believes our region must enhance its capacity in responding to regional and international challenges and maintaining ASEAN centrality in the evolving regional architecture through the further implementation of the AOIP. The AOIP represents the centrality and force of ASEAN in upholding the principles of peacekeeping, fostering a culture of dialogue, and strengthening cooperation.

To this end, Indonesia will continue to drive the practical implementation of the AOIP in its four priority areas: maritime, connectivity, the achievement of the SDGs, and trade and investment. In addition, Indonesia, Vietnam, and other ASEAN members need to encourage all Dialogue Partners to focus on the concrete implementation of the AOIP to add value to the existing ASEAN-centred regional architecture.