10th East Asia Summit

Finance, energy, emergency response, health, education and regional interconnectedness were originally identified as priority orientations of cooperation within EAS. In recent years at the East Asia Summit the Leaders have made efforts toward a new regional security architecture based on the principles of its indivisibility, adherence to international law and peaceful settlement of disputes.

During the meeting the heads of states and governments of countries-participants were discussing matters of ensuring security and sustainable economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region. They also were reviewing the development and prospects of cooperation in such priority areas as energy, finance, health care, emergency response. At the 10th East Asia Summit, the Leaders also placed high emphasis on issues of regional and international concern including terrorism, irregular migration, etc.

There are seven or eight declarations which the East Asia Summit would adopt were arranged. “So the main focus areas are global movements of moderates, the question of maritime cooperation, also issues of violent extremism, tackling health, RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) between ASEAN and its dialogue partners, which is making good progress,” Mr. Anil Wadhwa, India Secretary (East), told. The dominant document is the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of EAS which will outline ways of further development of the forum and determine the optimal ways of its evolution.

10th East Asia Summit

The first summit was held in Kuala Lumpur on 14 December 2005. The 16 countries and 1 observer (President of Russia Vladimir Putin) were involved. It consists of ASEAN 10+3 (ASEAN & China, Korea and Japan) and such countries like India, Australia and New Zealand. The statement confirmed by the summit pointed that it will be a “forum for dialogue on broad strategic, political and economic issues of common interest and concern, and with the aim of promoting peace, stability and economic prosperity in East Asia”.

Russia expressed early interest in EAS membership in 2005, but then the ASEAN countries considered that turnover between Russia and the Southeast Asia is too slight for participation of Russia in the organization. The decision was reversed in 2010, when Russia and USA were both invited to participate. Nowadays membership expanded to 18 countries including the United States and Russia. Other members are ASEAN 10 (Brunei, Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines), Japan, China, Republic of Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India. The 18 EAS member countries represent collectively 55% of the world’s population and account for around 55% of global GDP.

During the earliest East Asia summits the Cebu Declaration on East Asian Energy Security, the Singapore Declaration on Climate Change, Energy and the Environment were endorsed. The main result of the 4th East Asia summit (Hua Hin, Thailand, 25 October 2009) was the acceptance of the application for disaster situations and overcoming their consequences.

One of the most important and controversial topics of the 6th summit was the discussion on the territorial disputes between the countries surrounding the South China Sea – China, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines and Brunei. As part of the 7th summit the Leaders announced the opening of negotiations about the creation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) by 2015.

In 2013 Russia in conjunction with China, Brunei, India and Indonesia have offered the initiative development of principles of strengthening security and developing cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. In 2014 the East Asia summit was marked by problems in the South China Sea, when China and other countries of ASEAN disputed ownership of hundreds of small islands.

There are three important questions on the agenda: financial-economic stability of the region, terrorism and ongoing dispute on South China Sea. Territorial debates about situation in the South China Sea again dramatically increased and aggravated tensions over the waterway, which is a crucial passage for trade. These disputes questioned the central role of ASEAN in shaping a new architecture of security and international relations in the region. To some extent they have also challenged the further peaceful upsurge of China, the attempt of the U.S. to maintain its military superiority in the region and ASEAN’s unity. Thus at the10th East Asia summit one of the main topics was controversy among the United States and China— the TRANS-Pacific Partnership or the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. ASEAN countries try to balance between the major powers, expressing willingness to negotiate with both of them. Meanwhile other ASEAN member states – the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia (and possibly now Indonesia) – have ongoing territorial disputes with China over the South China Sea. But none of the ASEAN claimants have recognized each other’s claims. ASEAN’s overall weakness in addressing the South China Sea dispute partly hides in the fact that organization lacks an enforcement court.

Regional security issues are the major focus, especially in the wake of the recent terror attacks in Paris, Beirut and Egypt, and Russia. All the countries supported the East Asia summit declaration on terrorist organization “Islamic state”. The leaders claimed that an international partnership is required for a comprehensive response against the threat posed by terrorists.

On October 14, 2015 it became known that Washington refused to accept a high-ranking Russian delegation led by Medvedev to discuss the Syrian conflict, which the President of Russia Vladimir Putin has proposed to send to the USA. Josh Ernest, the current White House Press Secretary, explained that cause of failure was “the unwillingness of Moscow to make a constructive contribution to the fight against Islamic state”. In that case Medvedev called the U.S. position short-sighted and weak.
Financial-economic stability of the region and the development of free trade zones in the Asia Pacific region remain relevant. South-east Asian leaders have formally created a unified economic community in a region far larger than the European Union or North America, in the belief that it would competing with China and India. While China abides ASEAN’s largest trading partner and the largest trading entity of many states in the region. China's economic growth is expected to slow to an average of 6% annually over the next five years; India's expansion is likely to pick up to 7.3% in the same period, according to the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development.

Russia have expected on the activation of energy and financial cooperation among countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Russia sees good potential for the formation of a unified regional educational space, improvement of regional health systems. However, some analysts consider that the deepening of cooperation with ASEAN is hardly the most important direction of Russian foreign policy. They emphasize on the fact that since 2010 at East Asia summit Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was sent as a delegate, while other countries have always been represented at least Prime Ministers. Dmitry Medvedev visited the summit for the second time in a row.
In economic terms ASEAN, with a combined population of over 600 million, has the potential to become the fourth biggest economy by 2030. Some ASEAN members have shown reluctance in joining the talks because of the demanding requirements for regulatory convergence in intellectual property rights, state-owned enterprises and competition.

Established over time the mechanism of interaction between ASEAN members with each other and with dialogue partners opens the prospect of turning EAS into a credible and effective mechanism of maintaining peace and stability in East Asia, and in the more distant future, perhaps, only the Asia-Pacific region. Thus, EAS could become the equivalent of the OSCE taking into account all differences of this region from Europe.

Anyway from geopolitical point of view it is important to keep in mind that ASEAN membera are countries located in Pacific Rim, Rimland. And direction to Land Power or Sea Power still has matters.