ASEAN connectivity enhanced under Singapore’s chairmanship
Updated : Wednesday, December 12, 2018 3:31 PM (GMT+0700)

Cooperation andconnectivity in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have seenimprovements in 2018 under Singapore’s chairmanship, which was themed“Resilience and Innovation”.

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (fourth, left) and other ASEAN leaders at
the 33rd ASEAN Summit in Singapore last November - Photo: VNA

The 33rd ASEAN Summit and related meetings lastNovember concluded Singapore’s chairmanship.

Ensuring ASEAN’s central role and the region’s dynamicdevelopment was Singapore’s target for the bloc this year.

It put forth three focuses during its chairmanship, namelymaintaining the rule-based regional order to help ASEAN better resolve emergingsecurity challenges like cyber security, trans-national crime and terrorism;promoting regional economic integration and connectivity to enhance prosperityand competitiveness; and finding creative ways in digital technology managementand utilisation, and improving people’s ability to adapt to a digital economy.

Under Singapore’s chairmanship, the bloc has maintained itscentrality and consolidated ASEAN-led dialogue and cooperation mechanisms,attaining major outcomes in building an ASEAN Community and realising the ASEANCommunity Vision 2025, while contributing to peace and stability in the region.

The procession of community building included a series ofinitiatives proposed by Singapore and other member nations. Notably, leadersadopted the ASEAN Smart Cities Network to connect 26 cities in the region tofacilitate access to achievements generated by the community building.

ASEAN also received strong support from its partners andplayed its role in dealing with emerging issues, especially large naturaldisasters.

Its relations with partners have been enhanced throughspecial summits with Australia and India.

Aside from those strides, the grouping also faces difficultiesand challenges posed by complex changes in the international and regionalenvironment, as well as in ASEAN itself.

The changing geo-political balance has turned ASEAN into a“front” for powerful countries to compete for influence. Additionally, thefree, open and rule-based multilateral system that has contributed to ASEAN’sgrowth and stability is under pressure as some countries, including worldpowers, do not support multilateralism.

Facing this fact, ASEAN leaders have reiterated the key requirementis maintaining solidarity, unanimity and the central role of ASEAN andsolidifying an open, transparent and rule-based regional cooperationarchitecture with ASEAN at the centre.

Cohesion is considered the “catalyst” assisting the bloc toadapt to the changing international environment and sustain its central role inthe region in the face of other blocs or regional cooperation projects. It isalso an important factor for ASEAN to be recognised as a valuable partner ofpowers in the world.

Cohesion will also help strengthen the Southeast Asianregion’s capacity to cope with common threats like terrorism, cyber-crime andclimate change, and grasp opportunities and respond to unwanted impacts of thedigital technology revolution.

With the efforts and steps taken in 2018, ASEAN has shapednew directions to move forward and build a steadfast, resilient and cohesivecommunity.

Source: VNA 

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