A New Union In Asia Pacific?
Well, it is not a new issue, it’s been here and there since May 2009. I think the formation of Asia Pacific Community is a brilliant idea. We are aware that economic and strategic weight is shifting inevitably to Asia. Asia is host to many powers, Japan and South Korea enjoys the first country to sip the wealthiness, while China is very close behind, and India, then Indonesia. Each has its own uniqueness, and bargain power. If it comes to reality, Indonesia needs to push forward the formation of an EU-like union, where capital and labors freely move, bare level tariff for export and import, and if possible, a single currency. I am sure, with this pace, Indonesia will be a major power in Asia within the next 10-15 years to come, and we must get ourselves ready for that.
But again, it is only a proposal, and yet to be formalized. US had earlier opposed the idea, to which they thought that it’d reduce their influence economically and politically in Asia. As for Indonesia, this is a great opportunity to move forward beyond ASEAN borders.
Are you ready?
It was first proposed by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in May 2009 about the formation of an “Asia Pacific Community” on the basis of dialogue among regional power. He said: “Managing major-power relations, particularly in the context of the rise of China and India, will be crucial for our collective future. This will place a premium on wise statecraft, particularly the effective management of relations between the United States, Japan, China, and India.”
Calling for timely action to prevent any drift and “strategic polarisation,” he continued: “We need … a body that brings together leaders of the key nations of the Asia Pacific region, including Indonesia, India, China, Japan, and the United States, with a mandate to engage across the breadth of the security, economic, and political challenges we will face in the future.”
With a “pan-regional mandate,” the proposed Asia Pacific Community would encourage “a culture of cooperation and collaboration on security, including a culture of military transparency.” Cooperation on economic issues was also a high priority.
“While China’s remarkable development will continue, we should not underestimate the challenges that China faces in balancing its engines of growth from exports to domestic consumption: potentially, a turning point in East Asia’s future economic growth.”
Outlining other reasons for his initiative, he said: “Asia includes the world’s two most populous countries, the world’s largest holders of foreign exchange reserves, two of the world’s top three economies, and three of the world’s five largest militaries. There is a lot going on in our neighbourhood. The centre of global geostrategic and geo-economic gravity is shifting to our region.”