Asean lukewarm, members fear compromised neutrality

For now, Asean does not see agreement between the US, Australia, India and Japan on the character of the Indo-Pacific concept.
For now, Asean does not see agreement between the US, Australia, India and Japan on the character of the Indo-Pacific concept. PHOTO: ST FILE

When the United States came knocking on Asean's door and asked for a minute, Asean opened it and politely listened to Washington's sales pitch on a free and open Indo-Pacific - but has not embraced the strategic vision with enthusiasm.

The key reason behind the lukewarm reception is that the Indo-Pacific sounds like it targets a rising China, and Asean does not want to be forced to choose sides, say regional watchers.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 12, 2018, with the headline 'Asean lukewarm, members fear compromised neutrality'. Print Edition | Subscribe