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By Kevin H.R. Villanueva
The inexorable rise of China to the status of a superpower holds out a unique opportunity for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to follow its quest in building a “rules-based community.” Why is this so? I shall make my argument in three moves.
By Riza Bernabe
With the establishment of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) barely two years away, leaders in the region are busy trying to implement economic policies that will put into operation Asean’s vision of a common regional market. Asean aspires to become a single market by 2015, where goods, services and investments can freely flow among its 10 member-countries. It aims to become a vital segment in the global supply chain.
The high-profile summits held this week in Bali and then in Bandar Seri Begawan were described in many media reports in stark, dualistic terms—an absent United States, a rising China. In fact, the leaders’ meetings of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation in Indonesia and of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and its regional partners in Brunei showed that a multipolar world was truly emerging. But the world’s two biggest economies and military powers dominated the discussion.
By Mahar Mangahas
Our nongovernment organizations (NGOs) have been blooming for a long, long time.
By Zelda Soriano
It’s been a bad few weeks for the oceans of Southeast Asia, with three separate petrochemical spills polluting our waters, endangering biodiversity and livelihoods.
What a difference a year—or, more to the point, a new host—makes. At around this time last year, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations reeled from an unexpected scandal: the failure for the first time to issue a joint communiqué after a leaders’ summit. China had pressured host Cambodia, its close ally, not to allow any mention of the South China Sea disputes in the traditional closing statement; both the Philippines and Vietnam vigorously objected, but in the end Cambodia chose to side, not with its Asean partners, but with China.
By Conrado de Quiros
I loved that picture of the Asean foreign ministers clasping one another’s hands in solidarity that came out last weekend. The occasion was their meeting in Brunei last week. The people in the picture included Malaysia’s Anifah Aman, the Philippines’ Albert del Rosario, Singapore’s Kasiviswanathan Shanmugam, Thailand’s Surapong Tovichakchaikul and Vietnam’s Pham Binh Minh.
China is currently experiencing an economic slowdown. It relies on exports, but sadly the global demand for its products is declining. Meanwhile, property prices in China are soaring, and its smokestack industries have polluted its air. We recall that sometime ago news broke out that infant milk products made in China were laced with poison and killed many babies. It is feared that those who survived might have contracted various physical defects. (Here in the Philippines, some China products were pulled out after being found to contain or to be contaminated with a high level of toxicity.)
By Juan L. Mercado
“Hopes for calmer times under this year’s new management?” The Economist earlier tacked that keep-your-fingers-crossed title on a “leader” for a 2013 Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit. Were those “hopes” partly achieved Wednesday and Thursday in Brunei?
By Cielito F. Habito
I often hear the lament that we Filipinos are not as mindful as our neighbors appear to be of the impending closer integration of the Southeast Asian economies into the Asean Economic Community (AEC), to culminate less than two years from now. I have heard none of our candidates for national office in the coming elections address the topic, for example, in the way it figures in public discussions within our neighboring countries. And yet, this move of the 10 nations that make up the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) promises to have profound implications within and across their respective economies.
By Kevin H.R. Villanueva
Amid the spiraling chaos in Lahad Datu, Sabah, a crucial question has been raised which no one has yet explored: What can the Association of Southeast Asian Nations do? The answer is, put plainly and simply, nothing.
By Ramon Farolan
Last month we were treated to a fascinating 2-part series on Roberto Ongpin, trade minister during the Marcos years from 1979-1986. While I served under Finance Minister Cesar E.A. Virata, who was also the prime minister under an interim parliamentary system established in 1978, I had the opportunity to interact with Ongpin on a number of issues that involved trade and customs matters. I was dealing with two completely different personalities, but I had no doubt they were both men of integrity and courage who did their best serving the nation under difficult circumstances.