The US Ambassadors to the ASEAN countries rotate every three years or so. For the most part, with the exception of Singapore, they tend to be experienced career foreign service officers. A new class is making its way into the region. They a relatively young group with strong resumes and solid experience.
Singapore’s policy toward Taiwan is an example of the tightrope that Southeast Asian countries need to walk in the new era of an increasingly powerful China asserting itself – particularly in relation to its “core interests” including Tibet, Taiwan and (the newest addition to the “core”) the South China Sea.
Vietnam is providing very strong leadership in its role as ASEAN Chair in 2010. Expect that proactive leadership to continue next year as Indonesia, by far the largest country in ASEAN, takes over as Chair.
By Ernest Z. Bower, Senior Adviser and Director, CSIS Southeast Asia Program As Graham Greene hunched over his desk perched on the wizened teak floors of Hanoi’s Metropole Hotel knitting together the silky threads of naiveté and intrigue to craft…