Australia's new strategy towards Asean

Australia's new strategy towards Asean

Asean represents a vast opportunity for Australia, and the weekend summit will show whether Australian leaders are resilient enough to engage the region.
Asean represents a vast opportunity for Australia, and the weekend summit will show whether Australian leaders are resilient enough to engage the region.

When Australia looks to the north, what does it see? Southeast Asia, of course. But the region is no longer the geographic landmass in its front yard comprised of 10 countries governed by different political systems and cultural values to its own. From next week onward, Southeast Asian countries, each with a unique domestic dynamic, will become the nexus of Australian foreign policy.

Collectively, the 645-million strong Asean community can greatly benefit Australia, economically and politically. The summit between their leaders in Sydney on Saturday and Sunday will effectively place Asean at the heart of Australian strategic planning as never before. Judging from the year-long preparations for the summit this coming weekend, Canberra is deadly serious about riding the roller coaster with Asean. A full week of activities related to Asean in major cities ahead of the summit were aimed at changing the perception of Asean sceptics and promoting awareness and understanding of Asean-Australian relations.

Kavi Chongkittavorn is a veteran journalist on regional affairs.

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Kavi Chongkittavorn

A veteran journalist on regional affairs

Kavi Chongkittavorn is a veteran journalist on regional affairs

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