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NEWS - ASEAN-Wide Military Links to
- Subject: NEWS - ASEAN-Wide Military Links to
- From: BurmaJapan@xxxxxxx
- Date: Thu, 20 Nov 1997 10:51:00
ASEAN-Wide Military Links to Offset China Expert
By Rene Pastor
SINGAPORE, Nov 20 (Reuters) - ASEAN countries
should set up formal links between their armed
forces so ASEAN can serve as an effective
counterweight to China, an Indonesian security
expert said on Thursday.
Dewi Fortuna Anwar, of the Centre for Political and
Regional Studies, said in a paper at a roundtable on
the expansion of ASEAN it was time to consider a
region-wide security forum where all nine members
of the group can take part in joint military exercises.
Anwar, who is head of regional and international
affairs at the centre, told reporters formal ties
linking the military establishments of all ASEAN
countries ``will go a long way to reducing existing
divisions'' among members.
Asked if this would be seen as an attempt by
ASEAN to develop an effective counterweight to
China, she said: ``Why not? We want to
counterbalance the influence of China.''
Establishment of an ASEAN-wide security structure
will improve the ability of military forces in the
region to work together as a collective unit even
though the region is still not ``able to stand up to
China,'' she said.
``But at least it could make it harder for China or
Japan or the United States to divide and rule
ASEAN and to push it around,'' Anwar added.
Members of ASEAN have outstanding territorial
disputes with China over ownership of the Spratly
islands, which security experts have said could
become one of the flashpoints for conflict in the
The potentially oil-rich cluster of islands and coral
reefs in the South China sea are claimed in whole
or in part by ASEAN members Brunei, Malaysia, the
Philippines and Vietnam.
Under current arrangements, there is no
ASEAN-wide security arrangement. Most countries
conduct bilateral or trilateral military exercises with
At the moment, military officers only attend the
ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) but do not take part
in other activities of the group.
``Why don't we also bring military people into our
ASEAN discussions?'' she said. ``Close
cooperation among military personnel is the most
effective way to remove mutual suspicions and
promote transparency,'' the expert added in her
Anwar said it would take much time and resources
to create security arrangements to cover all nine
members of the Association of South East Asian
ASEAN links Brunei, Burma, Indonesia, Malaysia,
Laos, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and