ASEAN has not received high marks for unity, to say the least. This disunity was blatantly on display during the 2012 ASEAN Summit in Cambodia when the group failed to produce a joint communiqué and this year in Vientiane when the group nearly failed to do so. The issues at hand were engagement with China and the dispute in the South China Sea, not unrelated.
One cause of such disunity is the deep strategic and development relations between lesser developing ASEAN members and their regional partners. This allows for external meddling and deliberate wedge-driving from these partners in ASEAN, eroding the group’s autonomy.
Deep relations with regional partners and autonomy are not mutually exclusive. Yet, without deep relations among ASEAN members themselves, the latter can result in dependence, hence the erosion of strategic autonomy.
Other analysts have driven th...