East Asia Summit (EAS)

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    Syllabus: GS2/ Agreements Involving India &/or Affecting India’s Interests

    In Context

    • The 18th East Asia Summit (EAS) was recently held in Jakarta.

    East Asia region

    • The eastern region of Asia consists of the Asian nations, Greater China (Greater China consists of the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan), Japan, Mongolia, North Korea and South Korea. 
    • East Asia lies mostly within the temperate zone, and thus the climatic patterns and natural environment are similar in many ways to those of Europe and southern North America.

    Significance of East Asia region

    • Economic benefit: It represents nearly 50 percent of the world’s population with 20 percent of global trade, and comprising 16 nations that are on a dynamic path of economic development.
    • Regional Security: Considering tension on the Korean Peninsula, South China and in the Taiwan Strait, among others, it is vital for Japan, China and South Korea to maintain a common stance and to share a common concern for security in the East Asian region.
    • Global Implications: An East Asia community would play a big role in instilling a sense of responsibility in Asian countries and in leading them jointly in contributing to the resolution of global issues.

    About the East Asia Summit (EAS)

    • Origin: The origins of EAS dates back to the 1990 proposal for an East Asian Economic Grouping (EAEG).
      • The project was later revived through the ASEAN Plus Three or APT (China, Japan, and South Korea) Summit of Heads of State and Government that first met in Kuala Lumpur in December 1997.
      • It eventually found expression through the creation of the EAS in 2005.
    • Membership: Since its establishment, the membership of the EAS has increased from the original 16 to 18 countries comprising the ten ASEAN countries, along with Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, the United States, and Russia
    • Lead & the Chair position: ASEAN leads the forum, and the chair position rotates between ASEAN Member States annually. 
    • There are seven evolving priorities of regional cooperation within the framework of the EAS. These include
      • Environment and energy, 
      • Education, 
      • Finance, 
      • Global health including pandemics, 
      • Environment and disaster management, 
      • ASEAN connectivity, and 
      • Maritime cooperation.

    About the 18th East Asia Summit (EAS)

    • Leaders’ Declaration on ASEAN: At the 18th EAS, the Leaders’ Declaration on ASEAN as an Epicentrum of Growth was adopted.
      • Discussions were held on building resilience against emerging challenges and future shocks through cooperation on enhancing energy security and food security, maintaining financial stability, and strengthening regional health architecture.
    • Plan of Action (POA): The Plan of Action (POA) for the next five years outlines the priorities that include efforts on the mainstreaming and implementation of the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP).
      • The POA reinforces the centrality of ASEAN and ASEAN-led mechanisms as the driving force within the EAS. 
      • It lays emphasis on strengthening partnerships, through cross-sectoral collaborations that includes efforts in furthering the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
    • Meet of ASEAN & non-ASEAN states: The meet provided an opportunity for ASEAN member states and the eight non-ASEAN countries to exchange views on issues concerning the region and the world at large. 

    Significance

    • Representation: At the end of 2022, the participating countries in the EAS represented 52.8 percent of the world population and accounted for 60.4 percent of the global GDP.
    • Inter-regional: Being an ASEAN-led regional architecture, the EAS, unlike other regional forums, is inter-regional, consisting of countries from Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, and Australia
    • Open and inclusive: The EAS is the first Asian grouping which includes all the great Asian powers, guided by an open and inclusive regionalism.
      • The EAS being the only leader-led forum in the Indo-Pacific makes it a major platform to discuss the political, security, and economic priorities and challenges being confronted by the region. 

    Challenges

    • Complex geopolitical issues: Strengthening the EAS as a forum for dialogue and cooperation on a wide spectrum of strategic, political, and economic matters of common interest and concern, remains complex.
      • This stems from the existing and ever-evolving multi-faceted threats and challenges which get compounded through the intense geo-political and geo-economic discourse being witnessed in the region. 
    • Regional challenges: While the EAS participating countries share a common perspective aimed at achieving peace and security in the Indo-Pacific, ongoing contestations (like China-Taiwan issue), limits cooperative and collaborative framework as envisaged originally.
    • Hampering efficacy and effectiveness: The nature of the relations amongst the EAS participating countries, marked by confrontation and contestations, has had its impact on its efficacy and effectiveness.
    • Concerns over the relevance: The deepening geo-political divide being witnessed today raises concern on the relevance of the EAS in addressing issues of human security challenges as a consequent of the socio-economic fallout from the COVID-19 and the ongoing war in Ukraine. 

    Way Ahead

    • The 18th EAS was an attempt to strengthen the efficacy and effectiveness of the institution by emphasising on an international community, built on cooperation without division and confrontation.
    • The reinforcement of ASEAN Centrality and Unity as well as the mainstreaming of the AOIP are positive outcomes as they aligned with the visons on the Indo-Pacific of the respective EAS participating countries.
    Daily Mains Question

    [Q] Analyse the significance of East Asia Summit (EAS) as a premier forum for strategic dialogue in the Indo-Pacific. What are the geo-political and geo-economic challenges faced by the forum?