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(November 17, 2020) Asean is still alive and kicking (softly)

Despite the condescending views and criticism levied on Asean's defects and the relevancy of its small members, barring well-to-do Singapore and Brunei, the grouping has emerged from the just-completed 37th summit with a bigger profile and international role. The signing of the Asean-led, Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, the world's largest free-trade pact, was just one manifestation.

The outcomes of online Asean-related summits showed off one important quality of Asean -- its existing convening power and dialogue partners' willingness, some would say perseverance, to engage and work together with Asean. They have chosen the Asean side overriding the often cited mantra that it is Asean that must choose a side. Indeed, Asean remains the best bet for the dialogue partners given the current fluidity of the international strategic environment. Asean's main objective is to avoid conflicts and get things done -- obviously some tasks took a long time.

www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion/2020811/asean-is-still-alive-and-kicking-softly-


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