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Bersabe, Adrian A.

20 November 2017

Module 2 Paper
ASEAN has been built from its guiding principle, touted as the ASEAN way. Originally,
this meant that the regional bloc can protect their sovereignty by independence from powerful
states in both the East and the West, during the Cold War. The meaning of the ASEAN way
evolved up to this day as non-interference of domestic social and political affairs of each of the
member states from any state. However, a weakness on the absoluteness of the principle lies on
the prioritization of population security than protecting sovereignty of each state. Inter-state
relations are considered very important in achieving a strong regional bloc in terms of security and
In the modern time, national sovereignty of a state is rarely an issue when it comes to
developing versus developed countries. There may be overlapping claims on an island, but the
issue does not develop to national colonization of an independent state. As such, the ASEAN way
has developed into the needs of the globalized environment. The member states realized that
ASEAN it is more powerful to have a collective voice in meddling with the affairs of the member
states and representing the association to the worldwide community. Some issues plague the region
that would need the involvement of the ASEAN community: Rohingya Crisis, Territorial Disputes,
and ISIS Threat and Terrorism in the Region.
The execution of Rohingya minority is widely happening in Myanmar, under the eyes of
Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi – who received a Nobel Peace Prize for her campaign
for democracy in Burma. This resulted to fleeing of Rohingyan minorities from the country to
neighboring countries, which are member states of the ASEAN. This national issue has grown to
become a regional problem with economic, political, and security implications; thus, the ASEAN
member states shall intervene and act as a bloc towards the affairs of Myanmar regarding Rohigyas
(Lego, 2017). Any threat in peace and order would clearly hinder the interest of investors to the
country, or the region. Foreign investors, from non-ASEAN countries, may cut trade to the
association due to this genocide of the people. The political landscape in Myanmar is unorganized,
so while peace and order cannot be maintained, the military will hold onto power. Thus, it is
important to establish frameworks for development and gather support from member states to let
down the military. Lastly, security is hampered when the rohingyan minorities flee the country as
they are being trafficked by corrupt foreign officials to include them in movements of crime,
corruption, and exploitation.
The issue on the West Philippine Sea territories has become a worldwide dilemma when
China started to solidify its claim of the 9-dash line – which is basically the entire West Philippine
Sea. Recently, the ASEAN and China started negotiations on what is to be known as the Code of
Conduct on the West Philippine Sea. Interestingly in 2002, the two parties also made an agreement
known as ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (YingHui,
2017). However, the problem is that China does not want any legal document that will hinder their
control over the disputed islands. Due to this, China exerts little to no effort in attaining the goal
of the 2002 agreement. In this 2017 negotiations, ASEAN and China shall agree for a joint
ownership on the disputed islands or to set it as international waters to avoid any conflict. There
are three reasons why they must do this: trade, security, and political concerns. The conflicted
territories is the main thoroughfare of US$ trillion amount of trade and China may control or close
the area for their exclusive use, thus tarnishing the ability of efficient and less costly business. It
is evident that China wants to claim the area through their building of military bases on the islands.
They may want to increase their power in the region to extend their power as much as what the
United States is doing. It may be dangerous for ASEAN member countries because China may
exercise its extreme bargaining power of deals and negotiations with ASEAN members as they
control the area, militarily. Lastly, the United States also want to maintain its presence in the region
to maintain their global economic dominance so military tensions will rise and possible conflicts
will affect ASEAN member countries directly.
Terrorisms play a humungous part in headlines in recent years as lead by extremist groups
to promote ideologies against the government. It is a problem that Southeast Asia has become the
home of some of these militias. As a result, regional terrorism shall be convened and halted as a
solid bloc. The ASEAN member states shall form a commission to handle the affairs of each state
in handling and pinning down the terrorist groups living in the community. There are several
important reasons why they are important. First, trade relations with foreign countries can be
tainted if ASEAN member countries with known terrorist hives in their sovereignty do not actively
participate in hunting and eliminating them down as funds may come from corrupt officials of that
country. Second, security of the communities is always on the red flag because terrorists live within
the area and it will be easier for them to attack nearby communities. Lastly, political corruption
will be empowered when these militant groups persuade corrupt politicians that they can be useful
in their dirty businesses.
In all issues in the ASEAN community, it is evident that the region shall forego the
traditional ASEAN way into forming a radical way of solving problems – be a solid regional bloc
on intra-state issues as every problem in any member state can easily affect the lives of other states.

Lego, J. (May 17, 2017). Why ASEAN Can't Ignore the Rohingya Crisis. The Diplomat. Retrieved
YingHui, L. (November 18, 2017). A South China Sea Code of Conduct: Is Real Progress
Possible? The Diplomat. Retrieved from
Cabalza, C. (August 9, 2017). Can ASEAN Work Together to Fight Regional Terrorism? The
Diplomat. Retrieved from