Cooperation and positive engagement is key to Asia’s stability and prosperity

On 16 February 2023 the Australia-Japan Research Centre (AJRC) co-hosted a public Symposium with Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s Research Institute of Economy Trade and Industry (RIETI) with the theme Towards Comprehensive Regional Security in Asia. The symposium was held in-person in Tokyo and livestreamed online. You can watch the recording of the event here.

Indonesia’s Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati introduced the panel with a keynote speech that reflected on the escalating security concerns currently facing Asia, the importance of navigating the balance between continuing economic recovery and ensuring the security of the region, and the role of ASEAN in facilitating regional cooperation. ‘Indonesia’s role in chairing ASEAN in 2023 will provide a credible platform for cooperation, not only among ASEAN member countries, but also beyond. This is where ASEAN matters, this is how we are going to continue voicing the spirit of cooperation’, she said.

AJRC Director Associate Professor Shiro Armstrong chaired the panel, opening up the discussion by emphasising that, ‘the key question for Asian countries is how to bring the management of risks together in a way that national security concerns do not dominate economic and other interests’.

The four panellists — Prof Danny Quah (Dean, Lee Kuan Yew School, NUS), Prof Mely Caballero-Anthony (President’s Chair in International Relations and Security Studies, RSIS), Dr Rizal Sukma (Senior Fellow, CSIS Jakarta) and Prof Shujiro Urata (Chairman, RIETI) — each contributed their perspectives on the pressing issues facing the region and how comprehensive security can improve regional stability and prosperity.

‘A false dichotomy has been created between reducing income inequality and promoting economic growth that exacerbates inequality’, argued Prof Quah. ‘We need to avoid such false dichotomies and instead focus on both economic and security aspects, as advancing the economies and economic well-being of everyone in the world can also advance security — in doing so, the world can become richer, happier, and safer’.

Panellists emphasised the opportunities that are now present for East Asia to take the lead in strengthening institutions such as the East Asia Summit, ASEAN and ASEAN+3. These regional frameworks are pivotal to addressing the non-traditional and transnational security challenges facing the region, and ensure the promotion of comprehensive regional security.

‘Realist arguments about securing national and regional security through military power have had serious implications for multilateral cooperation across issues, norm shaping and institution building’, said Dr Sukma. ‘Comprehensive regional security must shift back to the front and centre of security discourse and regional cooperation to mitigate military build-up and aggressive power projection in the region’.

Speakers agreed that the securitisation of economics by some governments was proceeding without appropriate regard for the security benefits that flow from economic interdependence. Summarising the exchange of views at the Symposium, Associate Professor Armstrong emphasised the importance of strengthening multilateral cooperation to build an economic resilience based upon open markets and rules-based trade, while addressing the threat that climate change poses to prosperity and security throughout the region.

The AJRC will be hosting similar panels and roundtables over the course of 2023. To stay updated on the latest events, please subscribe to our monthly newsletter and/or follow us on Facebook.

Updated:  13 April 2024/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  CAP Web Services Team