Bigger roles for Asia amid US-China tensions: Forum

The Asia Perspectives On Future Relations As America Votes webinar included participants such as (top row, from left) Mr Nirmal Ghosh; Dr Robert Sutter, professor of Practice of International Affairs, George Washington University; Dr Satu Limaye; (bo
The Asia Perspectives On Future Relations As America Votes webinar included participants such as (top row, from left) Mr Nirmal Ghosh; Dr Robert Sutter, professor of Practice of International Affairs, George Washington University; Dr Satu Limaye; (bottom row, from left) Ms Sunetra Choudhury and Mr Anthony Kuhn.PHOTO: EAST-WEST CENTER

Countries in Asia can step up to take on bigger roles in the gaps created by tensions between the US and China, but they need to do so sensitively, said panellists on Wednesday at a forum on the implications of the US election for Asia.

For example, South Korea could share its experience of tackling Covid-19, said Mr Anthony Kuhn, a National Public Radio correspondent in South Korea.

The webinar was presented by the non-profit think-tank East-West Center (EWC) in Honolulu and Washington, in partnership with The Straits Times, ahead of the US election on Nov 3.

Moderator Satu Limaye, vice-president and director of EWC Washington, had asked whether other Asian countries could take on bigger roles in the region. Ms Sunetra Choudhury, national political editor at Hindustan Times in India, cautioned that countries had to be sensitive to their neighbours' responses when they forged new alliances. She said Nepal and Bhutan, India's neighbours, are concerned "we have been taking the big brother... attitude here in the region".

ST's US bureau chief Nirmal Ghosh said South-east Asia has always been comfortable with the US as an "offshore balancer". "They welcome the US' tougher posture against China but they don't want anything to go really seriously bad (in) the South China Seas or in the Taiwan Strait".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 31, 2020, with the headline 'Bigger roles for Asia amid US-China tensions: Forum'. Print Edition | Subscribe