Bilateral and Multilateral Approach of The United States and China Towards ASEAN

Irawan Jati

= http://dx.doi.org/10.20473/jgs.12.1.2018.39-56
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Abstract


The U.S. and China relations in Southeast Asia have been a long contesting history. It is no question that the U.S. and China are playing strategy to stronghold Southeast Asia for their gain. Both states seek greater influence by applying the multilateral and bilateral approach to ASEAN and its member states. In engaging to ASEAN, the U.S. and China joined ASEAN led multilateral forums such as the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and ASEAN Plus Three. Traditionally, the U.S. and China already have bilateral diplomatic relations with all ASEAN member states. But it does not necessarily represent their deep commitment to the Southeast Asia region. Furthermore, ASEAN relations with the U.S. and China are overshadowed by the rivalry between the two major powers. The US increasing military tied with the Philippines and Thailand's strategic plan to acquire submarines from China are the recent development of rivalries between the two. Therefore, it is fascinating to examine how the US and China's bilateral and multilateral approaches affecting ASEAN and its member states policies. It is argued that ASEAN should maintain neutral performance in engaging with the U.S. and China. It also suggests that ASEAN member states should keep their 'community' identity to derogate the possible deterioration of the stability in the region.

 

Hubungan antara Amerika Serikat (A.S) dan Tiongkok di kawasan Asia Tenggara memiliki sejarah persaingan yang panjang. A.S dan Tiongkok memainkan strategi untuk menguasai Asia Tenggara demi kepentingan mereka. Kedua negara berusaha untuk mencapai pengaruh yang lebih luas dengan melakukan pendekatan multilateral dan bilateral pada ASEAN dan negara anggotanya. Dalam hubungaannya dengan ASEAN, A.S dan Tiongkok terlibat dalam forum multilateral ASEAN seperti ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), dan ASEAN Plus Three. Secara tradisional, A.S dan Tiongkok telah memiliki hubungan diplomasi bilateral dengan negara anggota ASEAN. Namun hal tersebut belum menunjukkan komitmen utama mereka di kawasan Asia Tenggara. Lebih jauh lagi, hubungan ASEAN dengan A.S dan Tiongkok dibayangi oleh persaingan antar kedua negara besar tersebut. Peningkatan hubungan militer A.S dengan Filipina dan rencana strategis Thailand untuk membeli kapal selam dari Tiongkok merupakan perkembagan teranyar dari persaingan antar kedua negara tersebut. Oleh karenaya, artikel ini akan menganalisis bagaimana pendekatan multilateral dan bilateral yang dilakukan oleh A.S dan Tiongkok mempengaruhi kebijakan ASEAN dan negara anggotanya. Argumen utama dalam artikel ini adalah ASEAN harus tetap mempertahankan netralitas dalam kebijakannya terhadap A.S dan Tiongkok. Artikel ini juga merekomendasikan agar ASEAN dan negara anggotanya tetap berpegang pada identitas ‘komunitas’ untuk menghindari kemungkinan eprpecahan di kawasan.


Keywords


ASEAN, bilateral approach, China, multilateral approach, the U.S.

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