The International Experts Lecture Series spearheaded by the Department of International Studies of Miriam College continues with its Regionalism Series on 27 November 2020 via Zoom. Sharing his expertise on Southeast Asia Regionalism, Dr. Ja Ian Chong of the Department of Political Science of the National University of Singapore graced the second session of the lecture series.
In his well-argued presentation, Challenges of Not Choosing Sides: Southeast Asia Under the Shadow of Major Power Competition, Dr. Chong discussed the increasing competition between the United States and China and the risks of hedging which is the dominant foreign policy strategy of ASEAN countries in dealing with the US-China rivalry. He examined the consequences of hedging both to “non-leading” states in the region and “leading” states like the US and China. He argued that choosing sides between the US and China is not risk-free and can be problematic. However, amidst contestation and fight for hegemony, non-leading states can value cooperation, encourage collective actions, and foster integration to reduce tension between the rival states.
Following an enlightening and insightful lecture, Dr. Chong competently answered all the questions that several participants threw in. The engaging open forum further accentuated Dr. Chong’s extensive and scholarly perspective on Southeast Asia regionalism and other issues besetting the region. This was no surprise since Dr. Chong is a prominent scholar of International Relations and foreign policy and has contributed in these fields through his award-winning books and articles published in reputable journals, edited volumes, and newspapers.
More than 100 participants from different sectors here and abroad attended the said lecture. They were warmly welcomed by Prof. Lorna Israel, the Graduate Program Coordinator of the Department of International Studies. In her opening remarks, she emphasized that states should know how to navigate their way amidst the great power competition. Highlighting the main points of the discussion and concluding the event, Prof. Jona Villasante discussed the practical aspects of Dr. Chong’s lecture in foreign policymaking and thank him for sharing his time and expertise on a topic that is important to Filipinos being part of Southeast Asia. -- By Kaira Monique Valenton