ASEAN-RoK think tanks discuss opportunities of strategic partnership

October 06, 2020 - 17:27
The Republic of Korea (RoK) plans to upgrade the new southern policy with ASEAN to the next level, said Dr Bok-Yeong Park, economic advisor to RoK President Moon Jae-in and chairman of the presidential committee on the new southern policy.


DAV vice president of.the Diplomatic Academy of Việt Nam Nguyễn Hùng Sơn chairs the dialogue in Hà Nội. — VNS Photo Khánh Dương

HÀ NỘI — The Republic of Korea (RoK) plans to upgrade the new southern policy with ASEAN to the next level, said Dr Bok-Yeong Park, economic advisor to RoK President Moon Jae-in and chairman of the presidential committee on the new southern policy.

He was speaking at the virtual second ASEAN-RoK Think Tanks Strategic Dialogue on Tuesday hosted by the Diplomatic Academy of Việt Nam (DAV) and Korea National Diplomatic Academy (KNDA).

The new southern policy with ASEAN, which was put forward by the RoK’s government in 2017, aims to deepen the ASEAN-RoK strategic partnership based on three pillars of people, prosperity and peace. President Moon Jae-in has visited all 10 ASEAN countries and hosted the ASEAN-RoK Commemorative Summit last November, Dr Bok-Yeong Park said.

“Through such efforts, President Moon demonstrated willingness and sincerity of RoK for co-operation with ASEAN member countries,” he said.

Since early this year, despite unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, co-operation between the two sides has been undisrupted. As the two sides are confronting different policy environments, solidarity and co-operation against transmittable diseases such as COVID-19 have become more important.

“It has become clear that no single country is able to control and contain the pandemic. In the context of the current pandemic, the Korean government has actively promoted public health for ASEAN based common values, solidarity and co-operation.”

Because COVID-19 is accelerating the restructuring of the global supply chain and amid the competition of two major powers US and China, Dr Bok-Yeong Park recommended ASEAN and the RoK should develop as trustful partners and build a resilient regional supply chain.

“I believe that it’s now important to overcome current challenges and devise long term co-operation plans," he said.

He proposed strengthening people-centred co-operation in health, education and culture as well as partnership in biology and artificial intelligence.

Professor Simon Tay from the Singapore Institute for International Affairs said that “the RoK has been a good partner of ASEAN” but “the relations between the two sides can be better” through consistent and deepened co-operation.

He highlighted the significance of regional connectivity, building infrastructure and transitioning to a digital economy.

Digital is a growing space all over the world, especially in the ASEAN Economic Community. It has a variety of players, not just big international firms from the US and China. Digital companies are growing in ASEAN and need to develop and find more partners, according to Tay.

The RoK and ASEAN countries have plenty of co-operative potential in this area, for example, the RoK can help with setting standards or harmonisation of rules, he said.

Regarding the US-China rivalry, Professor Wongi from KNDA said ASEAN and the RoK need to make efforts to expand new areas of co-operation.

ASEAN and the RoK are at the early stage of strategic co-operation. The two sides need to be creative in policy co-operation and work on more concrete policy options, pushing towards multilateralism and bilateralism at the regional level, he said.

The ASEAN-RoK Think Tanks Strategic Dialogue is an annual mechanism between the Network of ASEAN Institutes for International and Strategic Studies (ASEAN-ISIS) and RoK, holding exchanges on ASEAN-RoK relations and policy recommendations for promoting co-operation between the two sides.

The second strategic dialogue aimed to continue the commitments of the leaders of the two sides at the summit to celebrate the 30th anniversary of ASEAN-Korea relations held in Busan, the RoK in 2019, said Nguyễn Hùng Sơn, DAV vice president.

Meetings between research institutions and policy advisors had provided useful information for ASEAN-RoK co-operation as well as commitments and plans reached at the first Mekong-RoK Summit in 2019. This year, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, both ASEAN and the RoK had co-ordinated effectively, Sơn said.

He emphasised that the outstanding co-operation outcome between the two sides recently was to join hands in response to the pandemic. The RoK responded quickly to ASEAN's call to contribute to the COVID-19 prevention and control fund.

At the first strategic dialogue in Seoul last year, the think tanks made substantial contributions to the discussion and development of the Co-chairs’ Statement submitted to the commemorative summit marking the 30th anniversary of ASEAN-RoK dialogue relations. — VNS