Asean And South Korea Should Level Up Cooperation In Facing Geopolitical Issues – Analyst

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 12 (NNN-Bernama) — The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its dialogue partner South Korea should level up the existing strategic cooperation in facing the geopolitical issues concerning superpowers.

Dr Lee Jaehyon, Senior Fellow at the The Centre for Regional Studies of the Asan Institute for Policy Studies, told Bernama that it is timely for the Dialogue Partnerships to be upgraded and expanded especially in the areas of defence, which includes science and technology.

“South Korea and ASEAN have developed a solid economic and sociocultural partnership to date.

“But as for the geopolitical issues that challenge the regional bloc, especially coming from the negative impacts of the superpowers’ rivalry, the two parties (ASEAN and South Korea) should have to upgrade the strategic dialogue and have to first know about each other’s strategic concern, as well as to identify the areas of cooperation.

“As competition among superpowers deepens, ASEAN countries need more capacity to defend their national sovereignty and interests, especially in the maritime domain. South Korea can cooperate with ASEAN countries in these areas.”

Jaehyon said this recently when asked to comment on how South Korea as ASEAN’s dialogue partner could best play its role in the grouping.

South Korea was accorded a full Dialogue Partner status by ASEAN at the 24th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM) in July 1991 in Kuala Lumpur.

Since the ASEAN-South Korea partnership was elevated to a summit level in 1997 in Kuala Lumpur, relations between ASEAN and South Korea have broadened and deepened.

Elaborating, Jaehyon pointed out that as ASEAN had already identified digital transformation as the main vehicle for economic recovery in the post-COVID-19 period, digital cooperation would be another area that can be further explored.

“Not just for economic reasons, but for national security; digital cooperation is crucial given that many developing ASEAN countries have issues of cyber security, data safety and over-dependency of their digital equipment to a certain country.

“On top of strategic cooperation (on the maritime domain), digital cooperation will be quite rewarding,” said Jaehyon, whose areas of expertise are in issues involving Southeast Asia and Oceania.

Concurrently, Jaehyon opined that the regional bloc could further strengthen its collective voice in putting the rivalries’ superpowers into the ASEAN-led multilateral schemes.

In this regard, it is also high time for ASEAN to deploy its diplomatic skills to persuade and get support from other regional small and medium powers, including South Korea, to make one voice in support of the existing ASEAN-led institutions.

“Anyhow, ASEAN has to regain the status of ASEAN-led institutions to put pressure on the bigger powers.

“When more regional countries show support for the institutions and when (there is) more practical and functional cooperation under the banner of ASEAN-led multilateralism, it will make the superpowers mind the voice of ASEAN as well as of regional small and medium powers.

ASEAN-South Korea cooperation in the political and security fields has been strengthened through existing mechanisms such as the ASEAN-South Korea Summit, Ministerial Meetings, ASEAN-South Korea Dialogue and Senior Officials Meetings.

South Korea has been actively engaging in ASEAN-led mechanisms, including the ASEAN Plus Three (APT), the East Asia Summit (EAS), ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), and ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM-Plus).

South Korea established its Mission to ASEAN in Jakarta in September 2012 and appointed its first resident Ambassador to ASEAN in October 2012.

Source: Nam News Network