Joanne Lin

Lead Researcher, Political-Security Affairs, ASEAN Studies Centre, ISEAS

Ms Joanne Lin is Lead Researcher in Political-Security Affairs at the ASEAN Studies Centre, ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute.

A handout photograph released by the UK Parliament shows Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaking during his first Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) in the House of Commons in London on 26 October 2022. (Jessica Taylor/AFP)

The UK's 'tilt' towards the Indo-Pacific may not be sustainable

The UK has launched a robust “tilt” towards the Indo-Pacific. To its credit, it has executed a series of high-profile diplomatic engagements and military deployments to the region. The question, however, is not about London’s desire to engage with the dynamic region but whether this tilt can be sustained.
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol looks on as US President Joe Biden delivers remarks in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, 20 May 2022. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

South Korea's pivot to the US will impact ASEAN

New South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol has a tough balancing act to pull off in his foreign policy as South Korea remains wary of greater US-China rivalry and China’s rise. The Yoon administration will likely continue to deepen its economic relations with ASEAN, and place more emphasis on security cooperation and a greater alignment with the US's values-based diplomacy.
US President Joe Biden speaks at the South Court Auditorium of the White House in Washington, DC, on 10 May 2022. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP)

What to expect from the US-ASEAN Summit in Washington

ASEAN leaders will finally meet US President Joe Biden at the long-awaited US-ASEAN summit in Washington. Whether ASEAN and US can find convergence on regional issues, such as Washington’s desire to manage the rise of China, will be a pressing challenge.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang speaks during the virtual ASEAN Plus Three Summit, hosted by ASEAN Summit Brunei, in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, 27 October 2021. (ASEAN Summit 2021 host photo/Handout via Reuters)

China should build trust with ASEAN where it matters

The majority of Southeast Asians continue to regard China as the most influential political, strategic and economic power in the region, says the State of Southeast Asia 2022 survey report published by the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute. But wariness of Chine's rising influence has not gone away, due in no small part to China's continued aggressive moves, especially in the South China Sea. For China, winning the hearts of ASEAN countries might take gaining trust and upholding key principles such as the rule of law, promotion of good governance and strengthening of human rights.
High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell unveiling the EU’s Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, September 2021. (Facebook/European Union in Australia)

The EU in the Indo-Pacific: A new strategy with implications for ASEAN

The European Council reached an agreement on an EU strategy for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific in April 2021, and in September, it presented a joint communication in which ASEAN was mentioned 31 times, paving the way for the EU to join the other longstanding advocates of the Indo-Pacific strategy. Given the similarities in ASEAN's Outlook on the Indo-Pacific and the EU's Indo-Pacific strategy, ASEAN can play a role in the EU's hopes to shape a rules-based international order and offer a rules-based alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (centre right) speaks with Dato Erywan Pehin Yusof, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Brunei (centre) in Liverpool, northwest England on 12 December 2021, at the ASEAN-G7 Foreign Ministers' Meeting. (Olivier Douliery/AFP)

ASEAN and the G7: Same bed, different dreams

ISEAS researcher Joanne Lin notes that the G7 is courting ASEAN in a bid to increase its profile in the Indo-Pacific. And while both groups share some common ground on issues such as the South China Sea and supply chains, they also diverge in significant ways on other issues such as supporting values of democracy and human rights, which stems as much from differences within ASEAN as the fact that expressing such views draws the ire of China.