ASEAN's rational vision

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Tensions rise in the Pacific: South-East Asia offers its model as peacekeeping solutions

Editorial by Valerio Bordonaro

Over the past month, ASEAN has once again become a crossroads for world diplomacy. July began with the now customary High Level Dialogue between ASEAN and Italy, in Kuala Lumpur. The occasion highlighted Italian expertise in the field of energy transition and the five points on which the Italy-ASEAN bilateral partnership will focus its efforts were outlined. A partnership between ASEAN governments and Italian private companies is being considered to make investments more attractive. These days the ASEAN Foreign Ministers' summit took place in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh. And, once again after Indonesian President Joko Widodo's recent trip between Kiev and Moscow, South-East Asia is standing up as a possible mediator of conflicts following its line of neutrality and pacifism. Indeed, the Phnom Penh forum took place in the midst of tensions between the US and China over Nancy Pelosi's trip to Taiwan. The world seems to have rhetorically split in two, with Washington and the G7 condemning Beijing's harsh reaction including military exercises around the island, and Russia instead supporting China along with North Korea. ASEAN, on the other hand, adopts its own third way hoping to point to a different method for international relations. In a rare official stance on Taipei issues, ASEAN issued a note urging both the US and China to calm tensions and refrain from provocations. ASEAN stated that 'the global community urgently needs the wisdom and responsibility of all leaders to protect multilateralism and partnerships, cooperation, peaceful coexistence and fair competition to safeguard the common goals of peace, stability, security and inclusive and sustainable development'. An invitation addressed to both superpowers. ASEAN also expressed its commitment to play a constructive role in 'facilitating peaceful dialogue between all parties, including through the use of an ASEAN-led mechanism to calm tensions, safeguard peace, security and development in our region'. From the current crises, ASEAN is emerging with a stronger image of rationality and diplomacy.

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