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Policy Brief: Rethinking the East Asia Summit – Purposes, Processes and Agenda

31 Oct Policy Brief: Rethinking the East Asia Summit – Purposes, Processes and Agenda

Started ten years ago, the East Asia Summit (EAS) was developed to bring together leaders of all the major powers concerned with the region. Hosted by ASEAN, the EAS has been heralded as a confidence-building mechanism to minimise conflict and move towards cooperation. Yet it has also been criticised as a “talk shop” that lacks teeth and focus.

The SIIA believes that the EAS has the potential to become the apex summit for dialogue among leaders about the key strategic issues facing the Asia Pacific region. In this policy brief, we argue that given the deficit of trust among major powers, the focus should remain on confidence-building. The EAS should continue to be “leader-led”, with a degree of informality to allow a candid and close exchange of views, as originally envisaged.

This policy brief also suggests changes to focus the EAS agenda and its work processes. These aim to increase the timeliness and relevance of dialogue in the EAS, to develop a flexible yet viable platform for the leaders to initiate action to respond in times of crisis and need.