ASEAN: The Limits of Consensus

Sep 15, 2016 | 08:00 GMT
ASEAN: The Limits of Consensus

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), home to some 635 million people and a collective gross domestic product of nearly $2.6 trillion, is one of the largest economic blocs in the developing world. Its importance in the global economy will likely only grow in the coming decades as economic, military and political might shifts from Europe to the Asia-Pacific. Much of that power, however, will be concentrated among the bloc's neighbors -- namely, China, Japan and India -- whose economies dwarf ASEAN states' in both size and scope. They, and external powers such as the United States, will jockey for influence within the promising Southeast Asian region, a competition that could drive ASEAN members closer together in search of mutual protection. Yet the same contest may also exacerbate the geographic circumstances that have historically limited the bloc's ability to coalesce. As the "all or none" mantra upon which ASEAN was...

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