With Singapore facilitating greater dialogue between ASEAN and China, what are the prospects for regional stability in South-East Asia? And can the city-state sustain its role as an honest broker given its long-standing security ties with the US?
2016 will enter the history books as the year in which the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) became the ‘ASEAN Community’. Although the principally economic body still has a long way to go, this move towards greater regional integration is of symbolic importance, marking as it does the willingness of South-East Asian countries to come together despite their many political differences.
The deteriorating situation in the South China Sea, in particular, has driven regional players to boost their national defence capabilities, something which risks militarising international waters. The escalation of tensions between China and the US has pushed ASEAN capitals to take sides, making it difficult for the organisation to preserve its relative neutrality. Yet, as a key component of the regional security architecture, a strong and united ASEAN is more essential today than ever before