The Habibie Center, Jakarta March 30, 2016

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1 THE HABIBIE CENTER DISCUSSION REPORT No. 21/March 2016 nd 32 TALKING ASEAN Post-Special Leaders Summit U.S. - ASEAN Strategic Relationship The Habibie Center, Jakarta March 30, 2016

2 INTRODUCTION JAKARTA JAKARTA On Wednesday, 30 March 2016, The Habibie Center hosted the 32 nd Talking ASEAN public dialogue titled Post-Special Leaders Summit U.S.- ASEAN Strategic Relationship at The Habibie Center Building in Jakarta. This edition of Talking ASEAN was moderated by A. Ibrahim Almuttaqi (Head of ASEAN Studies Program, The Habibie Center) and featured an expert panel made up of Jamil Maidan Flores (Columnist & Consultant for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Indonesia), Courtney Kline (Political Officer, U.S. Mission to ASEAN) Dr. Evi Fitriani (Head of the International Relations Department, Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, University of Indonesia), and Muhamad Arif (Researcher, ASEAN Studies Program, The Habibie Center). The objectives of this Talking ASEAN were to: (a) examine the dynamics during the 2016 U.S.-ASEAN Special Leaders Summit and the results of the meeting; (b) identify regional perspective on the importance of maintaining security and economic cooperation between ASEAN and the U.S.; and (c) identify challenges and opportunities in enhancing sustainable U.S.-ASEAN strategic relationship. This discussion report summarizes the key points of each speaker, as well as the question and answer session that followed.

3 SPEAKERS PRESENTATION Jamil Maidan Flores Jamil Maidan Flores - Columnist & Consultant for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Indonesia Mr. Jamil started his presentation by pointing out some criticisms of the U.S. ASEAN Summit. Chief among them is the argument that the outcome document was too vague. The outcome document did not explicitly mention the elephant in the room : China s assertiveness in the South China Sea. At the same time the outcome document did not announce any new major initiatives. However, Mr. Jamil argued that some of these criticisms are unfair. The U.S.-ASEAN Summit was never meant to discuss the specifics or launch any new major initiatives as these were already discussed during the regular U.S.-ASEAN Summit that was held in Kuala Lumpur in November He further explained that the Summit had two major aims. The first was to send a simple message to ASEAN, its Dialogue Partners and other regional powers that the U.S. was committed to its rebalance to Asia. By holding the Summit, the Obama Administration was able to earn a few more credibility points to its Asia rebalance policy. On the economic side, the U.S. investment in ASEAN totaled USD 226 billion in 2015 (USD 11 billion more than China s investment). There were also US-ASEAN trade workshops to help the six ASEAN member-states that were not yet part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to be informed about the initiative and to help them to qualify for it. The second message from the Summit was addressed to Obama s successor. The U.S.-ASEAN Summit was to impress to whoever succeeded Obama at the White House that ASEAN was an exceedingly important region whose economic size was surpassed by only China in the East Asia region. ASEAN is seen as the soft spot in the heart of China. The U.S.-ASEAN Summit was thus a demonstration that Washington D.C. would maintain its dominant position in the region. Mr. Jamil argued that if other candidates were like Hilary Clinton, there would not have been a need for the U.S.-ASEAN Summit and for Obama to have made the message he made. As one of the co-architects of U.S. foreign policy towards ASEAN, Hilary Clinton understands well the importance of ASEAN. However because of the three other candidates, sending out a message was important for Obama. This is especially so when, according to Mr. Jamil there are candidates who 1

4 SPEAKERS PRESENTATION Jamil Maidan Flores confuse severe weather conditions with climate change, who advocate trade wars with China, etc. Donald Trump in particular was described as a rabble rouser whose anti-immigration proposals would undermine U.S.-ASEAN relations. Mr. Jamil also stated that Ted Cruz is also tapping into a rising trend of angry US voters. As such, Mr. Jamil said he can only hope there are not enough angry U.S. voters. Americans should be confident in its own greatness and its place in the world. It does not need to make America great again. On the ASEAN side of the partnership, Mr. Jamil noticed that the spectacle of the ASEAN Economic Community has yet to take off. Protectionism still exists in the region with Indonesia putting up the largest amount of non-trade barriers. With the TPP, we can only hope that the desires of the remaining non- TPP ASEAN member-states to join the initiative will lead to greater liberal trade and investment. The second message from the Summit was addressed to Obama s successor. The U.S.-ASEAN Summit was to impress to whoever succeeded Obama at the White House that ASEAN was an exceedingly important region whose economic size was surpassed by only China in the East Asia region. - Jamil Maidan Flores - At the end of his presentation, Mr. Jamil stressed that ASEAN needs more coherence. ASEAN intra-trade has seen significant growth in recent years. Nevertheless, the ASEAN Community needs to become a fullyfledged community and not just a self-declared one. He believed that in order to have a strong US-ASEAN partnership we need to have strong partners. 2

5 SPEAKERS PRESENTATION Courtney Kline major priorities to move forward include: women opportunities, emerging leaders, maritime cooperation, economic integration, and transnational challenges. Ms. Kline noticed that food security and fishing resources are under enormous threats. Therefore, it is important to pursue economic policies that support the food and fishing sectors. She also added that the U.S. would like to see greater cooperation to address transnational crime. Courtney Kline - Political Officer, U.S. Mission to ASEAN At the end of her presentation, Ms. Kline believed that the U.S. election will not change the sustainability of the U.S.-ASEAN relationship. Whoever becomes the next U.S. president will continue the relationship and help ASEAN to realize its goals in the ASEAN Vision As the second panelist, Ms. Kline expressed her experience at the U.S. Mission to ASEAN as a rewarding one because of the great attention that ASEAN receives from Washington DC. She recommended the audience to read the recently published Obama Doctrine in order to have a better understanding about the U.S. ASEAN Summit. Ms. Kline saw that the U.S. relation with Asia is the future, and ASEAN is at the heart of it. This is the major reason why the U.S. upgraded the relationship to a strategic one in Kuala Lumpur last year. There was also the adoption of the Plan of Action to implement the ASEAN-U.S. Strategic Partnership which will govern the relationship for the next five years. This Plan of Action covers a wide area including human rights, climate change, etc. The U.S. election will not change the sustainability of the U.S.-ASEAN relationship. Whoever becomes the next U.S. president will continue the relationship and help ASEAN to realize its goals in the ASEAN Vision Courtney Kline - She further emphasized that the U.S. was the first Dialogue Partner to appoint a specific Ambassador to ASEAN. At the East Asian Summit in 2015, the U.S. committed themselves to addressing violent extremism, public health, maritime issues, etc. After the Summit, the relationship between ASEAN and the U.S. is stronger than ever. In response to criticism of the outcome document, Ms. Kline mentioned that there was a commitment to freedom of the seas and over flight as well as non-militarization of the South China Sea. Five 3

6 SPEAKERS PRESENTATION Dr. Evi Fitriani Dr. Evi Fitriani - Head of the International Relations Department, Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, University of Indonesia Dr. Fitriani opened her presentation by providing some background on the history of the U.S.-ASEAN relations. First, ASEAN was established under the U.S. political and security realm. During the Cold War and Vietnam War, there was an effort by the US to bring together moderate anti-communist states in Southeast Asia. Some books suggest ASEAN was created by the U.S., but perhaps this is too bold a claim according to Dr. Fitriani. More likely what happened was that Southeast Asia s agenda aligned with the agenda of the U.S. It should not be forgotten that initially the U.S. was not really a strong supporter of regional integration. Dr. Fitriani noticed that the relations further evolved. The U.S. presence in the region became an obstacle for the regional integration in Southeast Asia since the U.S. had also established special bilateral relations with some ASEAN countries. Following the end of Cold War, U.S. domestic problems had caused their perceived departure from Southeast Asia. U.S. and ASEAN finally reestablished their relationships in the 2000s as a result of international dynamics. The 9/11 terrorist attack brought U.S. and ASEAN together in an anti-terrorism cooperation. Dr. Fitriani emphasized that especially in the last 10 years, the region has become attractive to large countries. There are many strategic opportunities and problems that make the region attractive. Asia is seen as an engine of global growth. With regards to the dynamics of the Summit, Dr. Fitriani explained this was the first time that the US-ASEAN Summit was done outside of Southeast Asia. It was also symbolic that the Summit took place in California and not Washington DC. California is on the western coast facing the Pacific Sea and the Asian region. The format of two retreat sessions and a working dinner shows that the US was adapting to the ASEAN way of doing business. Normally the US prefers formal settings and not to make decisions over dinner. The informality of the forum provides a space for trust and confident building between the U.S. and ASEAN. Dr. Fitriani continued to explore the existence of regional perspective in ASEAN. She believed that there is no single perspective and there must be at least three perspectives. There is one grouping made up of Vietnam, 4

7 SPEAKERS PRESENTATION Dr. Evi Fitriani Singapore and the Philippines that traditionally are close with the US. Then there is another grouping made up of Cambodia, Lao PDR and Myanmar that are traditionally closer to China (however Myanmar s relationship with China may need reevaluating since it democratization. The last group is Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. On the next part of her presentation, Dr. Fitriani reviewed some of the challenges in the U.S.-ASEAN relations. The major concern has to do with the unequal relationship between the two: the big power versus medium and small countries. ASEAN expects a lot of help and aid from the US. The US provides the region with security and protection, but that comes at the expense of allowing the US to dominate the region. Another challenge is the China factor. It divides ASEAN between the two big countries and it causes the Association some problems in maintaining unity and centrality. Dr. Fitriani also mentioned the South China Sea as a flashpoint. On the one hand, we want the US presence, but at the same time it also poses problems. This was the first time that the US- ASEAN Summit was done outside of Southeast Asia. It was also symbolic that the Summit took place in California and not Washington DC. California is on the western coast facing the Pacific Sea and the Asian region. - Dr. Evi Fitriani - However, despite those challenges, Dr. Fitriani also explored some of the opportunities in the U.S.- ASEAN relations. Both parties will be able to take advantage out of a big market combining 900 million populations in total. They can also learn from each other on multicultural society and problems in middle class population. The U.S. and ASEAN can also take this opportunity to enhance the cooperation on some sectors, namely maritime, science and technology as well as security. 5

8 SPEAKERS PRESENTATION Muhamad Arif environment and domestic politics. The rise of China, maritime security and the growing threat of ISIS are some examples that contribute to the region s strategic environment. Furthermore, the upcoming U.S. Election, leadership changes in Myanmar, the Philippines and Vietnam, as well as the new foreignpolicy making structure in Indonesia are some of the dynamics in the domestic politic sphere. Muhamad Arif - Researcher, ASEAN Studies Program, The Habibie Center Mr. Arif s presentation argued that there is still a gap between U.S. foreign policy towards Southeast Asia and ASEAN, the former refers to Southeast Asia as a geographical entity, the latter refers to ASEAN as a regional institution. He observed that U.S. Southeast Asia foreign policy is characterized by bilateralism and more-traditional balance of power politics. Different threat perceptions and gap in economic development makes it difficult for the U.S. to have an overarching, multilateral security cooperation framework in the region. In addition to that, Mr. Arif argued, most of Southeast Asian countries are becoming more outward-looking militarily. In this regard, Mr. Arif highlighted some notable defense procurement made by Southeast Asian countries. In contrast to its Southeast Asia foreign policy, the so-called U.S ASEAN foreign policy is more characterized by multilateralist approach and liberalist politics. Within this framework, U.S. has been supporting for ASEAN institutional centrality in creating an ASEAN-driven regional security architecture. This aspiration, however, has been hindered by the inter-governmental nature of ASEAN and its extreme adherence to the principles of sovereignty, consensus and non-interference. Mr. Arif argued that U.S. should calibrate its foreign policy towards Southeast Asia and ASEAN. It is better for U.S. to have an ASEAN-based Southeast Asia foreign policy. On that note, it is also important for ASEAN to become a stronger and more reliable regional institution for its own members. ASEAN institutional capacity to solve disputes among its members and an increased intra-asean trade are important in this regard. Finally, Mr. Arif noted that mutual adherence to international norms and laws are fundamental in achieving a rule-based regional security architecture. Speeding up U.S. ratification of the Law of the Sea is important in this regard. It is also important for ASEAN to become a stronger and more reliable regional institution for its own members. ASEAN institutional capacity to solve disputes among its members and an increased intra- ASEAN trade are important in this regard. - Muhamad Arif - Mr. Arif mentioned the two factors contributing to U.S. foreign policy direction in this region: strategic 6

9 Q&A SESSION I also don t see that article 3 of the outcome document contradicts itself. SMEs are very strong and play a big role in the economies of Southeast Asia so I see nothing wrong in supporting them. I don t see the contradiction in supporting SMEs and calling for an open competitive economy. Also to Mr. Jamil, while there was no specific reference to the big elephant in the room, the issue of the South China Sea was discussed in a specific session dedicated to that session. A. Ibrahim Almuttaqi - Head of the ASEAN Studies Program, The Habibie Center Comment No.1 In my view Hilary Clinton will most likely win the U.S. Presidential Election later this year. However, I think what counts is the perception among the public in Southeast Asia. Perceptions are important. The margin of Hilary Clinton s victory will determine this perception. ASEAN needs to have a good understanding on this point. Comment No.2 I was very interested by the defense expenditures data shown in Muhamad Arif s presentation. However, I want to ask has the data been looked at in-depth. Is the increased spending being used for asset expansion or the procurement replacement? In the Malaysian example, the majority of procurement is to replace old hardware rather than expand our military assets. I also take a few issues with Dr. Evi s point regarding the poor structure of the outcome document. There is a difference between the usual ASEAN Summits and joint summits. The outcome document of the Sunnylands Summit was typical of joint summits in that we do not usually make references to previous statements. Dr. Evi Fitriani The outcome document calls for an open economy. That means a liberal economy. However, SMEs by their nature need protection by governments as they are too small to survive on their own. If they could survive on their own and compete with big companies, they would not be SMEs anymore. In my view to put the call for SMEs support in the same sentence as calling for an open economy is difficult. They should be put in different sentences. We should achieve one first then try and achieve the other. Jamil Maidan Flores The lack of reference to the South China Sea issue is was simply quoting what the critics have stated. The determination of the U.S. to stay in ASEAN is not a new thing. U.S. presence has always been there and has been welcomed for decades. There was perhaps a time when it seemed U.S. lost interest in Southeast Asia because its focus was ore on the Middle East and South Asia, but the U.S. never left the Southeast Asian region in reality. Even at the height of U.S. interest in the Middle East, it still considered Southeast Asia. When there was a major summit of world leaders in Athens, Greece to discuss the Iraq War, Indonesia was also invited to attend. 7

10 Q&A SESSION Although the 2009 visit of Hilary Clinton to Jakarta was a bilateral visit, she discussed regional issues with her counterpart. There was an ASEAN angle to her visit such as a discussion on Myanmar. In some ways, the visit could be seen as a preview to the formal launch of the U.S. rebalance to Asia. Chinese aggressiveness in the South China Sea has only really begun since Traditionally Indonesia has preferred to sweep everything under the rug by claiming there is no dispute with China. Clearly there is one. Muhamad Arif It s important for countries to have small but effective militaries rather than large but slow ones. Defense spending has gone up, even after the ASEAN Political-Security Community was launched. By definition, if you have a security community, the members should not be considering going to war with one another, or seeing each other as potential security threats. This suggests there is still something wrong in the region. Courtney Kline I cannot comment too much on the U.S. Presidential Elections, simply because we do not know how it will turn out. All I can say is that we live in interesting times. Everyone is interested in the election but we should not forget that there are still a lot of things for us to focus on this year. Our Mission is very much focused on the upcoming ASEAN Summit in November and related meetings. Comment No.3 I want to ask more about ASEAN-U.S. Connectivity. Everyone is now talking about connectivity. Why is this? Was the U.S. inspired by the other ASEAN Dialogue Partners and decided it needed to also have its own initiative so that it was not left behind? The four pillars described by Ms. Courtney seem very different to the Chinese approach which is focused more on infrastructure projects. Courtney Kline The U.S. rebalance to Asia was not just about strengthening relations in the political-military pillar but also in the economic and socio-cultural pillars. The ASEAN-U.S. Connectivity is seen as part of improving our economic engagement with the region. Comment No.4 (Dr. Evi Fitriani) I feel there is a certain distance between ASEAN and the U.S.. I was previously a Fulbright Fellow but I do not see the same degree of people-topeople connectivity anymore. I think we need more engagement here. Courtney Kline The U.S. is also very committed to people-topeople engagement. We have committed a lot of resources to this. If you ask Obama what is his proudest achievement, I m sure he will list YSEALI as one of them. 8

11 9

12 PROJECT SUPERVISOR: Rahimah Abdulrahim (Executive Director) Hadi Kuntjara (Deputy Director for Operations) HEAD OF ASEAN STUDIES PROGRAM: A. Ibrahim Almuttaqi RESEARCHERS: Fina Astriana Muhamad Arif Askabea Fadhilla FINANCE & ADMINISTRATION : Mila Oktaviani Layout and Design by Rahma ASEAN Studies Program - The Habibie Center The Habibie Center Building Jl. Kemang Selatan No.98, Jakarta Tel: Fax:

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