southeast asia

November 27, 2012

Sakchai Deenan is Thai, but he's pretty big in Laos. Talk about filmmaking and cultural exchange among the nations of Southeast Asia and the man with limited means and image of a constantly struggling director has carved out a unique new segment, feeding off the interconnectedness between the peoples of Thailand and Laos, and managed to reap fair success these past four years.

Recently reelected US President Barack Obama has started a three-day Southeast Asia tour in a bid to change US diplomacy balance in the region. While there, the President will also try to secure the opening of new markets for American business. In his first trip abroad after his reelection on November 6, Obama has arrived Sunday in the capital of Thailand, Bangkok.

September 14, 2012

The mayors of HCM City, Phnom Penh and Vientiane yesterday agreed they would work together towards making the Mekong Sub-region a single attractive tourism destination... The statement said the one tourism destination initiative would strengthen "the spirit of friendship, cooperation, and community development for ASEAN solidarity, peace, dynamism, innovation and sustainability."

From that point on, Asean may begin to consider the prospects for developing its own collective “soft power.” Since Asean countries individually and together do not amount to much in hard power terms, that which is taken to be soft power, for what it is worth, may also be Asean’s best bridge to the future.

The result, as one Japanese analyst put it, was that “China scored an own goal,” immediately reversing what had been a favourable trend in bilateral relations under the ruling Democratic Party of Japan. More generally, while China spends billions of yuan in efforts to increase its soft power in Asia, its behaviour in the South China Sea contradicts its own message

A recent Yahoo! Japan search for “sofuto pawa,” the Japanese translation for soft power, yielded nearly two and a half million entries. While this number indicates the term’s popularity in Japan, it tells us little about how successful Tokyo has been in employing soft power throughout the Western Pacific.

China cannot be too deterministic about its practice of "soft power", said the Australian don, who spoke under the Chatham House Rule (a principle that governs the confidentiality of the source of information received at a meeting)... "China defines soft power as though one can assemble it at the border and export it like a box of toys," he added. "That is light years away from Nye's original concept."

Finally, the success of Myanmar to have a democratic election sends an important message to all of us that soft power diplomacy is not only possible, but can be relied on to deal with conflicts and political turmoil in countries without violence. Various problems that were caused by conflict and political turmoil can be resolved through dialogue, without political and military intervention.