Deep in the SEA
ASEAN is in fantastic shape, and the next decade will be even better – With Kishore Mahbubani
Kishore Mahbubani is a living legend when we deal with Southeast Asia, India and ASEAN. He is one the brightest mind and I had the honor of having him in my podcast. Kishore Mahbubani is a living legend when we deal with Southeast Asia, India, and ASEAN. He is one the brightest mind, and I had the honor of having him in my podcast. Kishore Mahbubani has been a supporter of a significant role of India in ASEAN, but the issue, according to his judgment, is very delicate. There are problems in the short term and great opportunities in the long term. In the short term, ASEAN got disappointed towards India because it didn’t join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. India is domestically preoccupied with various challenges, and it can’t divert its attention to other goals. However, the history showed us that, until the 18th century, the biggest economies in the world were China and India, and only in the last two centuries the West has taken off the two Asian nations. China has come back very fast, and India will come back slowly but steadily. In 2050, China will be the first economic power, and India will be number two. Professor Mahbubani also speaks about ASEAN and how, routinely, it has been considered as a failing and declining organization. Two years ago, when Indian outperformed China, western media were jubilating. This year, despite ASEAN has slowed a bit, is performing better than India. No western media took note of it. Despite regular ups and downs, ASEAN forward trajectory has not stopped. Professor Mahbubani considers ASEAN as the second most successful international organization in the world while he believes the EU the best one. ASEAN and EU, according to Mahbubani, have a natural partnership. However, there is a caveat: EU must treat ASEAN with respect. The case of the palm oil and the various sanctions EU is targeting ASEAN countries are the brightest examples of a western organization trying to patronize over different political and economic cultures.
China has been useful for the elites in Duterte’s circle - With Carlo Fong Luy
Carlo Fong Luy is a young researcher and he has a lot to share about his country, the Philippines. As you dear listeners may have understood, I have a passion to speak about Rodrigo Duterte and his flamboyant foreign policy. According to Carlo, in order to understand Duterte, we need to depart from a rock-solid assertion: the Philippines’ politics is an oligarchy. Powerful elites control vast swaths of the country and government needs them. A pro-Chinese foreign policy lead Chinese investments that have been beneficial particularly for the elites in Duterte’s circle: Dennis Uy and Lucio Tan.
Duterte is overplaying his hands with China - With Richard Heydarian
Richard Heydarian is one of the most authoritative source regarding the Philippines and Rodrigo Duterte. According to Heydarian, in the past Duterte, a local politician in Davao with zero experience in global affairs, has been capable to pragmatically shift Manila’s foreign policy away from an ironclad and rigid alliance with Washington. Duterte, differently from previous leaders, has been acute enough to understand that sometimes the Philippines’ national interests would have been better off by distancing from the US and binding more with Beijing. However, Durerte has swung too much aggressively towards China and he is not appreciating anymore the value of the US deterrence against a more assertive Chinese presence in the South China Sea.The military apparatus, obviously, is not really in tune with Duterte’s pro China stances. According to Heydarian, Duterte and his supporters are overestimating China’s assets and underestimating it’s liabilities: aging population, ecological catastrophe and structural economic slowdown. There will not be a complete collapse, as American scholars predict, but the physics of power and economics are hitting hard on China.
Forget about an Indian major involvement in Southeast Asia - With Gregory Poling
If Vansh Saluja was quite sure about India’s diplomatic, political and military capabilities in Southeast Asia, Gregory Poling, from the CSIS, is not sure about it. He believes that, on case of an American disengagement from the region, India will be incapable to provide any political or military reach. ASEAN has insistently asked India in the past for a major geopolitical involvement, but it never happened. At most, India will be another middle power in the region.