On the same day that Kim Jong Un stepped over the demarcation line at Panmunjom to shake the hand of a smiling Moon Jae-in, the 32nd ASEAN Summit released three forward-looking outcome documents focused on the future of Southeast Asia: the ASEAN Leaders’ Vision for a Resilient and Innovative ASEAN; Concept Note for an ASEAN Smart Cities Network; and the ASEAN Leaders’ Statement on Cybersecurity Cooperation. These were understandably overshadowed by the historic inter-Korean summit but the success and efficacy of ASEAN meetings and statements have also largely come to be judged by the acrobatic verbiage of the grouping’s communication on the South China Sea. This is unfortunate.
The three documents outline ASEAN’s determination to embrace the digital world and to bank on inter-connectedness despite the economic, social, political, and cultural differences within and among all 10 member states. They extend the regional aspiration of community-building to the digital infrastructural platform and will presumably complement existing initiatives like the Masterplan on ASEAN Connectivity, which has itself been reviewed and renewed for the next milestone of 2025.
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