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JC History Tuition Online - ASEAN - What caused the Sino-Vietnamese War

What caused the Sino-Vietnamese War of 1979?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]:
Paper 2: Regional Conflicts and Co-operation
Source Based Case Study
Theme III Chapter 2: ASEAN (Growth and Development of ASEAN: Building regional peace and security – relations between ASEAN and external powers)

Topic of Study [For H1 History Students]:
Essay Questions
Theme II Chapter 2: The Cold War and Southeast Asia (1945-1991): ASEAN and the Cold War (ASEAN’s responses to Cold War bipolarity)

Learn more about how the Sino-Vietnamese War occurred in 1979, affecting the Indochinese region. [Video by The Gulf War Channel]

Historical context: The Sino-Soviet split
On 17 February 1979, Chinese forces entered the northern border of Vietnam, sparking off a war between the two. Although the war only lasted for a month, it had significant impacts in the 1980s, such as increased involvement by the regional organisation ASEAN during the Third Indochina War.

Before the war, China and the Soviet Union were at odds with one another. During the Vietnam War, the two Communist powers offered aid to North Vietnam in hopes of isolating the other party and assuming leadership in the ideological bloc. Initially, Hanoi sided with China to resist the American forces in Vietnam.

The deteriorating Sino-Soviet relationship during the latter part of the 1960s eventually derailed Chinese-Vietnamese relations. While the Soviet Union did indeed use its support for North Vietnam in an attempt to win influence in Hanoi, China did so as well, hoping to coerce the Vietnamese into endorsing Beijing’s hard-line anti-Soviet revisionist position. Especially after suffering significant military losses during the 1968 Tet Offensive, the Vietnamese, who needed help from both socialist nations, were greatly annoyed by China’s increasing intractability, particularly the PRC’s growing perception of the Soviet Union, not the United States, as the primary threat to China’s national security in early 1969. Perhaps even worse, Beijing began to withdraw Chinese troops from Vietnam, although leaders promised that the forces would return if the Americans came back.

An excerpt from “Deng Xiaoping’s Long War: The Military Conflict Between China and Vietnam, 1979-1991” by Zhang Xiaoming.

However, Hanoi allied with the Soviet Union in the mid-1970s, as seen by its admission to the Council of Mutual Economic Cooperation (COMECON) in August 1978. Also, the two nations signed the Treaty of Friendship and Co-operation in November 1978. In return, Vietnam received extensive military support from the Soviets.

From then on, China-Vietnam relations had soured.

Chinese engagement with Thailand
After Vietnam signed the treaty with the Soviet Union, Deng met Thai Prime Minister General Kriangsak Chamanan, offering to withdraw support for the Communist Party of Thailand (CPT) and strengthen Thai border security. This was to assure the Thai authorities that the looming Vietnamese threat would be pre-empted.

On 25 December 1978, nearly 220,000 Vietnamese troops invaded Kampuchea. By January 1979, the pro-Beijing Khmer Rouge was forcibly removed from power. Instead, a Vietnamese puppet government known as the Kampuchean United Front for National Salvation (FUNSK) was established and helmed by Heng Samrin.

Increased Chinese hostility: Teach Vietnam a lesson
On 7 January 1979, the Chinese government wrote a letter to the United Nations, accusing Vietnam on invading Kampuchea by force and seeking to create an “Indochinese Federation” with the help of the Soviet Union. Deng remarked in a meeting with the US President Jimmy Carter that they should “put a restraint on the wild ambitions of the Vietnamese and to give them an appropriate limited lesson”.

Afterwards, the Sino-Vietnamese War began in February 1979. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) mobilised 400,000 troops, an extremely large undertaking ever since their intervention in the Korean War. During the clash, both sides suffered significant losses. On 16 March 1979, the Sino-Vietnamese War came to an end.

However, the PLA were willing to absorb heavy losses, as long as the conflict achieved its strategic goals. The PLA believed these goals had been achieved, and that the war had succeeded in ‘exposing Moscow’s inability or unwillingness to back Vietnam’. While the use of force against Vietnam had been condemned by the US, albeit ambiguously, and raised the suspicions of regional states such as Indonesia and Malaysia, ultimately there was very little backlash, regionally or internationally.

An excerpt from “ASEAN Resistance to Sovereignty Violation: Interests, Balancing and the Role of the Vanguard State” by Laura Southgate.

After the war, Beijing stated five reasons to explain why they attacked Vietnam:

  1. Vietnam had become a hegemonic power, claiming to be the world’s third military superpower.
  2. Hanoi refused to respect China’s borders and repeatedly made incursions.
  3. Mistreatment of the Chinese in Vietnam.
  4. Oppression of the Vietnamese people.
  5. The Soviet Union’s expansionist policy in Southeast Asia to undermine China.

Consequences on the Kampuchean conflict
Yet, the month-long clash had failed to halt Vietnam’s occupation of Kampuchea. Open hostilities between China and Vietnam had persisted even after.

The two viewpoints expressed above bring to light the fact that both Hanoi and Beijing were at odds with each other principally because they were competing for influence in the region and feared what would happen if the other succeeded. Thus, for the Chinese, border problems, ethnic Chinese problems, and other problems could not be separated from Vietnam’s overall ambitions in Indochina because they reflected Hanoi’s expansionist tendencies.

An excerpt from “Dragons Entangled: Indochina and the China-Vietnam War” by Steven J. Hood.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you u agree that the Sino-Vietnamese War was key in explaining Chinese involvement in the Third Indochina War?

Join our JC History Tuition to study the Cold War. The H2 and H1 History Tuition feature online discussion and writing practices to enhance your knowledge application skills. Get useful study notes and clarify your doubts on the subject with the tutor. You can also follow our Telegram Channel to get useful updates.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics TuitionJC Chemistry TuitionJC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Lower Secondary English Tuition, Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. For Primary Tuition, we have Primary English Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to find out more.

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JC History Tuition Online - What is APEC and its Purpose - ASEAN Notes

What is APEC and its purpose?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]:
Paper 2: Regional Conflicts and Co-operation
Source Based Case Study
Theme III Chapter 2: ASEAN (Growth and Development of ASEAN : Building regional peace and security)

Examine the origins of APEC to understand its role in promoting economic development in the Asia-Pacific region in the 1990s [Video by APEC]

Historical context: Desire for economic cooperation
Following the economic recession in the early 1980s, ASEAN held conferences at the ministerial level, in which member states have expressed interest to engage in economic cooperation between developed and developing nations.

By the mid-1980s, countries around the world had anticipated the end of the Cold War ushering a new dawn. In the absence of superpower rivalry and the end of proxy wars, markets could finally become integrated. This vision was realised when regional trading blocs were created, such as the European Union (EU) (after the reunification of Germany). Likewise, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was signed in 1994 to develop a free trade zone for USA, Canada and Mexico.

In the Asia Pacific, more countries identified the economic interdependence of the region, thus expressing desire to forge a regional organisation to promote free trade as well.

Role of the APEC
In November 1989, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) was formed as an inter-governmental grouping. When it was formed, there were only twelve members inside, including Singapore and other ASEAN member nations. Till date, APEC has twenty one members.

In 1991, the Seoul Declaration reflected the APEC member economies’ aim to create a liberalised free trade zone around the Pacific Rim. Then, a meeting was held in Bogor, Indonesia, to expand APEC’s aim to include targets like the development of ‘free and open trade and investment’ for the region. ‘Bogor Goals‘, as they were known, specified that industrialised economies should fulfil this aim by 2010 and by 2020 for the developing counterparts.

One main characteristic of APEC is its laissez-faire enforcement mechanism. There is no over-arching supra-national authority that governs APEC or any aspect of its member’s economic policies. The APEC process deliberately avoids impinging on its members’ sovereignty. Its importance and influence, and where it lies, derives entirely from consultation and persuasion in order to encourage commitment to regional goals and policy cooperation.

An excerpt from “APEC at 20: Recall, Reflect, Remake” by Lim Kesavapany.

An ‘ASEAN-nised APEC: EAEC
The United States played a significant role in promoting economic cooperation within APEC. President Bill Clinton hosted the first annual meeting in Seattle, Washington, in 1993. However, not all members were fully supportive of the APEC’s involvement with Western nations.

In 1990, the Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir suggested an alternative to APEC, known as the East Asia Economic Group (EAEG). Mahathir was concerned with the rise of other regional trading blocs that may undermine the economic development of Southeast Asian states, namely the EU and NAFTA.

Yet, within ASEAN, Indonesia disagreed with Malaysia’s proposal as the formation of an East Asian alternative may alienate themselves from key trade partners like the USA and Japan. Notably, this concern was partly addressed when the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) was announced in 1992.

Mahathir remains lukewarm at best about APEC, still preferring his EAEC idea as an alternative. He views the APEC forum as a grouping that will likely come under the dominance of the United States, become institutionalized, and lead to Western economic control in Asia, creating a situation wherein Asian members would become minor players with virtually no voice in the economic affairs of their own region.

An excerpt from “Malaysian Politics Under Mahathir” by Diane K. Mauzy and R. S. Milne.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that ASEAN’s successes at promoting regional economic cooperation hinged on the ASEAN Way?

Join our JC History Tuition to evaluate efforts to promote regional economic integration in Southeast Asia. The H2 and H1 History Tuition feature thematic discussion, question application for essay and source based case studies. Sign up now to start your productive online learning classes to prepare for the examinations.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics TuitionJC Chemistry TuitionJC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Lower Secondary English Tuition, Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. For Primary Tuition, we have Primary English Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to learn more.

JC History Tuition Online - What is the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia

What is the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]:
Paper 2: Regional Conflicts and Co-operation
Source Based Case Study
Theme III Chapter 2: ASEAN (Growth and Development of ASEAN: Building regional peace and security)

Topic of Study [For H1 History Students]:
Ess
ay Questions
Theme II Chapter 2: The Cold War and Southeast Asia (1945-1991): ASEAN and the Cold War (ASEAN’s responses to Cold War bipolarity)

The document
On 24 February 1976, the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) was signed. This peace treaty was formalised during the Bali Summit in Indonesia by the five founding members of ASEAN.

In their relations with one another, the High Contracting Parties shall be guided by the following fundamental principles :

a. Mutual respect for the independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity and national identity of all nations;

b. The right of every State to lead its national existence free from external interference, subversion or coercion;

c. Non-interference in the internal affairs of one another;

d. Settlement of differences or disputes by peaceful means;

e. Renunciation of the threat or use of force;

f. Effective cooperation among themselves.

An excerpt from the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, Chapter I: Purpose and Principles, Article 2, 24 February 1976.

Notably, this document was signed a year after the Vietnam War concluded, with the forces in North Vietnam unifying the Vietnam territory under Communist rule. It was an alarming development, considering that ASEAN was futile in keeping the region free from external interference, as seen by its use of the Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality (ZOPFAN) in 1971.

Application: Dispute resolution
To put the principles of the TAC into practice, ASEAN formed a ‘High Council’ that features a judicial dispute-settlement mechanism to resolve regional matters amicably. Yet, the High Council was only being referred to when Indonesia suggested to resolve the territorial dispute with Malaysia with regards to the Sipadan and Ligitan islands. Eventually, when Malaysia objected, this dispute was brought up to a globally-renowned International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The only time that resort to the dispute-settlement provisions of the TAC was ever considered was in the mid-1990s, when Indonesia proposed using the TAC’s High Council to help resolve its dispute with Malaysia over ownership of the Sipadan and Ligitan islands. Malaysia declined the proposal. Instead, Kuala Lumpur preferred, and President Soeharto eventually agreed, to take the dispute to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, which has since ruled in Malaysia’s favour.

An excerpt from “Southeast Asia in Search of an ASEAN Community” by Rodolfo Severino.

Application: Extra-ASEAN engagement
In the post-Cold War phase, ASEAN re-positioned itself to maintain its relevance. The establishment of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in 1994 was meant to engage non-ASEAN countries, particularly the big powers like the USA and China, through peaceful talks.

The TAC was applied to enforce the need for proper code of conduct so as to de-escalate tensions and resolve disputes, such as the ongoing territorial clashes in the Spartly Islands.

In the early 1990s, ASEAN supplied an inclusive security dialogue forum to bring together all the major regional powers and players, something other actors were unable to do. Through this process all powers agreed to ASEAN’s TAC as a regional code of conduct, and to dialogue as a key aspect of regional strategic engagement, no mean feat considering the US’ and China’s scepticism and opposition to multilateralism in the initial post-Cold War years.

An excerpt from “Understanding ASEAN’s Role in Asia-Pacific Order” by Robert Yates.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that the TAC was effectively applied in ASEAN’s response to the Cold War?

Join our JC History Tuition to analyse the political effectiveness of ASEAN in the Cold War and post-Cold War periods. The H2 and H1 History Tuition feature thematic discussion, question application for essay and source based case studies. Receive summary notes and attempt diverse practices to get a head-start in your examination preparation.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics TuitionJC Chemistry TuitionJC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Lower Secondary English Tuition, Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. For Primary Tuition, we have Primary English Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to learn more.

JC History Tuition Online - What is the purpose of AFTA - ASEAN

What is the purpose of AFTA?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]:
Paper 2: Regional Conflicts and Co-operation
Source Based Case Study
Theme III Chapter 2: ASEAN (Growth and Development of ASEAN : Building regional peace and security)

Learn more about the ASEAN Free Trade Area [Video by NBT World]

What is the AFTA?
On 28 January 1992, ASEAN formalised the ASEAN Free Trade AREA (AFTA), which aims to enhance the region’s competitive advantage as a production base to access the world market in the post-Cold War world. Through the Common Effective Preferential Tariff (CEPT) Agreement, the elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers among member nations would help to expand intra-regional trade.

At first, then Thai Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun proposed the AFTA during the 24th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in July 1991. At the Kuala Lumpur meeting, his Malaysian counterpart Dr. Mahathir Mohamad lent support to Anand’s proposal.

Establishment of a Free Trade Area

54. The Foreign Ministers welcome as a matter for serious consideration the initiative of His Excellency the Prime Minister of Thailand, which was supported by the Honourable Prime Minister of Malaysia, that ASEAN moves towards a Free Trade Area by the turn of the century, and agreed that the Senior Officials of ASEAN undertake further study and discussion for submission to the forthcoming ASEAN Summit.

An excerpt from the 1991 Joint Communique of the 24th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 20 July 1991.

The backstory of AFTA: Lee’s meeting with Anand
Before the AFTA was created, Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew met the incoming Prime Minister Anand in May 1991. Apart from the discussion of a recently resolved Cambodian conflict, Lee brought up the topic of regional trade. Although Singapore was at the forefront of economic development in the region, not all member nations shared similar sentiments in promoting regional economic cooperation, partly due to inter-state tensions.

Strategically, Lee and Anand both knew AFTA could not be promoted as any sort of Singaporean initiative. “If Indonesia and Malaysia had known the idea was discussed at my meeting with Lee Kuan Yew, it would have been a problem and treated with a degree of skepticism,” said Anand. Indonesia felt it should always take a leading role in ASEAN affairs, which is one of the reasons the grouping’s secretariat had been established in Jakarta in 1975. Meanwhile Malaysia has always been suspicious of anything with Singaporean fingerprints on it.

Lee was circumspect about his meeting with Anand. “He understood the economics of trade and investment in an interdependent world,” Lee later wrote. “To avoid lingering suspicions about Singapore’s motives, I advised Prime Minister Goh to get Anand to take the lead to push for an ASEAN Free Trade Area.”

An abridged excerpt from “Anand Panyarachun and the Making of Modern Thailand” by Dominic Faulder.

Features of the AFTA
Under the CEPT Agreement, tariff rates levied on a range of products traded within Southeast Asia should be lowered to 0-5%. Notably, there are exclusions to protect the interests of key industries for member nations. An extended deadline was given to new members like Vietnam (2013) and Cambodia (2017), so that they have adequate time to facilitate market integration with the free trade area.

CONVINCED that preferential trading arrangements among ASEAN Member States will act as a stimulus to the strengthening of national and ASEAN Economic resilience, and the development of the national economies of Member States by expanding investment and production opportunities, trade, and foreign exchange earnings;

DETERMINED to further cooperate in the economic growth of the region by accelerating the liberalisation of intra-ASEAN trade and investment with the objective of creating the ASEAN Free Trade Area using the Common Effective Preferential Tariff (CEPT) Scheme;

An excerpt from the Agreement on the Common Preferential Tariff (CEPT) Scheme for the ASEAN Free Trade Area Singapore, 28 January 1992.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the effectiveness of ASEAN in promoting regional economic cooperation through the AFTA in the 1990s.

Join our JC History Tuition to study the effectiveness of ASEAN in promoting regional cooperation. The H2 and H1 History Tuition feature thematic discussion, question application for essay and source based case studies. Get useful study references and timely feedback to grasp the subject well.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics TuitionJC Chemistry TuitionJC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Lower Secondary English Tuition, Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. For Primary Tuition, we have Primary English Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to find out more.

JC History Tuition Online - South China Sea dispute - Cartoon Analysis - ASEAN

South China Sea dispute – Cartoon Analysis

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]:
Paper 2: Regional Conflicts and Co-operation
Source Based Case Study
Theme III Chapter 2: ASEAN (Growth and Development of ASEAN: Building regional peace and security – relations between ASEAN and external powers)

Gain insights to understand the significance of the dispute
In the following section, we will be examining some political cartoons to comprehend the perceptions and interpretations by various authors on the South China Sea dispute. As JC students preparing for the GCE A Level History examination, it is important to refine your critical thinking skills by exploring diverse sources. Try to critique the strengths and limitations of each cartoon to test your level of understanding.

By Paresh Nath, The Khaleej Times, UAE, 20 August 2014.
About ASEAN’s repeated calls for the adherence to its ‘Code of Conduct’ while being surrounding by myriad claimants in the sea.
Cartoon by Paresh Nath, 10 July 2012.
Depiction of conflicting clams among Vietnam, the Philippines and China, while ASEAN struggles to remind all parties to follow the ‘Code of Conduct’.
By Paresh Nath, 27 July 2020.
About a Chinese ‘dragon’ surrounding the sea while other claimants look on helplessly.
Cartoon from Times of India, 31 October 2019.
ASEAN member states facing a menacing-looking whale that deployed Chinese vessels into the disputed territory.
An editorial cartoon from the Philippine Daily Inquirer, 30 April 2017.
ASEAN struggles in its responses towards a ‘militarised’ China in the West Philippine Sea.
Editorial cartoon on ASEAN unity and issue of the South China Sea dispute.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that ASEAN was successful in maintaining its regional security in the post-Cold War world?

Join our JC History Tuition to find out how to revise for the Source Based Case Study section in Paper 2. The H2 and H1 History Tuition programmes feature thematic revision for areas like The Cold War, Global Economy and the Asian Financial Crisis. Students can participate in free writing practices to find out what are the areas of improvement and raise their writing proficiency levels.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics TuitionJC Chemistry TuitionJC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. For Primary Tuition, we have Primary English Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to learn more.

JC History Tuition - When was ASEAN formed - JC History Essay Notes

When was ASEAN formed?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]:
Paper 2: Regional Conflicts and Co-operation
Source Based Case Study
Theme III Chapter 1: Reasons for the formation of ASEAN

Topic of Study [For H1 History Students]:
Essay Questions
Theme II Chapter 2: The Cold War and Southeast Asia (1945-1991): ASEAN and the Cold War (ASEAN’s responses to Cold War bipolarity)

Historical context: Konfrontasi, an undeclared war
Before the founding of ASEAN, Southeast Asia was affected by conflicts that broke out due to political differences among neigbouring countries. Furthermore, the Cold War rivalry had expanded into the region, pressuring governments to take a side.

In particular, the Indonesian leader Sukarno expressed disapproval at the formation of the Malaysian Federation in 1963, which sparked a three-year conflict. Philippines also disputed the creation of the Federation due to the inclusion of Sabah.

Following the rise of Suharto, the Indonesian government expressed desire to mend diplomatic ties with Malaysia, as evidenced by the official end of the Confrontation in August 1966. As a leader that desired regional leadership, Suharto supported the formation of ASEAN as a regional organisation to unite neighbouring countries.

ASEAN was born in the aftermath of the tense and and destabilising Konfrontasi (Confrontation) of 1963-1966, which President Sukarno of Indonesia had launched against the Federation of Malaysia to protest its formation. Thanat Khoman – Foreign Minister of Thailand from 1959 to 1971 – was attempting to broker a reconciliation between Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia that he broached the idea of forming a new organisation for regional cooperation to Indonesian Foreign Minister Adam Malik, and on 8 August 1967, the five foreign ministers of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand came together in the main hall of the Thai Foreign Affairs Department to sign what is now known as the ASEAN Declaration or Bangkok Declaration.

An excerpt from “ASEAN Law and Regional Integration: Governance and the Rule of Law in Southeast Asia’s Single Market” by Diane A Desierto and David J Cohen.

Functions of ASEAN
Following the creation of ASEAN in August 1967, the regional organisation had developed four main methods of cooperation: the non-use of force, pacific settlement of disputes, regional autonomy and non-interference. Member nations have agreed to forge regional cooperation through diplomatic means, while avoiding the use of military force.

The establishment of ASEAN was the product of a desire by its five original members to create a mechanism for war prevention and conflict management. The need for such a mechanism was made salient by the fact that ASEAN’s predecessor had foundered on the reefs of intra-regional mistrust and animosity.

An excerpt from “Constructing a Security Community in Southeast Asia: ASEAN and the Problem of Regional Order” by Amitav Acharya.

It was known that its norms were developed as a result of past setbacks, such as the failure of organisations like the Association of Southeast Asia (ASA) and MAPHILINDO. (A grouping that involved Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia).

ASEAN Way: Guiding principle for co-operation
The “ASEAN Way” was one of the fundamental features of the regional organisation. It was inspired by Malay cultural practices known as musjawarah and mufukat. In principle, ASEAN functioned on the basis of consensus and consultation.

Antolik identifies three key principles of ASEAN that all member states must adhere to in order to ensure the success of the organization. These are restraint, respect, and responsibility. Restraint refers to a commitment to noninterference in other states’ internal affairs; respect between states is indicated by frequent consultation; and responsibility involves the consideration of each member’s interests and concerns. In practice, ASEAN’s unified policies reflect a consensus that is usually the lowest common denominator among member states… ASEAN is a convergence of the interests of its members.

An excerpt from “Explaining ASEAN: Regionalism in Southeast Asia” by Shaun Narine.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the political effectiveness of ASEAN in promoting regional unity from 1967 to 1991.

Join our JC History Tuition and learn more ASEAN and other regional and international organisations. We cover a broad range of topics for H1 and H2 History. Students will receive study notes and undergo skill-intensive discussion and practices. Over time, we assure you that you will develop an organised and sound mind to derive logical arguments for essay writing and source based case study questions.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to learn more.

JC History Tuition - What is the main purpose of ASEAN - JC History Essay Notes

What is the main purpose of ASEAN?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]:
Paper 2: Regional Conflicts and Co-operation
Source Based Case Study
Theme III Chapter 1: Reasons for the formation of ASEAN

Topic of Study [For H1 History Students]:
Essay Questions
Theme II Chapter 2: The Cold War and Southeast Asia (1945-1991): ASEAN and the Cold War (ASEAN’s responses to Cold War bipolarity)

Find out how ASEAN has evolved over the years ever since its inception in 1967 [Video by NowThisWorld]

The tumultuous sixties: Why was ASEAN formed?
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was established as a regional organisation on 8 August 1967 by five members – Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia.

The regional grouping was formed during a troubling decade in which Southeast Asian governments were pre-occupied with domestic challenges, such as the rise of Communist insurgencies.

Let’s take a look at the Bangkok Declaration that was signed by the five members:

SECOND, that the aims and purposes of the Association shall be:

1. To accelerate the economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region through joint endeavours in the spirit of equality and partnership in order to strengthen the foundation for a prosperous and peaceful community of South-East Asian Nations;

2. To promote regional peace and stability through abiding respect for justice and the rule of law in the relationship among countries of the region and adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter;

An excerpt from the ASEAN Declaration (Bangkok Declaration), 8 August 1967.

In order to understand the purpose of ASEAN, it is imperative to consider the motivations of individual member states.

Singapore: Economics and Regional Security
For Singapore, ASEAN was a necessary grouping to address the immediate concerns of the government. On 9 August 1945, the leaders of an ‘accidental nation’ had to contend with the limited resources in Singapore. On 18 July 1967, the British announced its plans to withdraw from the East of Suez. The unexpected departure of the British forces left Singapore vulnerable to security threats.

As one of the founding fathers of ASEAN, Mr Rajaratnam played a pivotal role in fostering an ASEAN consensus and promoting a more cohesive and cooperative region. Initially, he argued that regional cooperation should be contemplated primarily in economic terms.

… Mr Rajaratnam articulated Singapore’s view that ASEAN was primarily an organisation for promoting economic cooperation and not for resolving the region’s military and security problems.

An excerpt from “S Rajaratnam on Singapore: From Ideas to Reality” by Chong Guan Kwa, S. Rajaratnam.

However, not all members were supportive of the reliance on external powers for regional security, such as Indonesia.

Indonesia: Regional leadership in a post-Konfrontasi era
The former President Sukarno’s policy of Confrontation had strained diplomatic relations with neighbouring countries like Malaysia and Singapore. Subsequently, Suharto supported the formation of ASEAN not only to mend relations but also strive to assume a leadership position in the grouping.

Nevertheless, Suharto still held a common view with his predecessor in pursuing a policy of non-alignment.

In effect, the policy of konfrontasi prevented Indonesia from winning recognition as a regional leader in Southeast Asia and beyond in the non-aligned movement. Later, President Suharto would argue that Sukarno’s konfrontasi had also violated Indonesia’s bebas-aktif principle in foreign affairs, whereby Jakarta was to pursue an independent and active foreign policy, which implied avoiding an alignment with any one bloc.

An excerpt from “ASEAN’s Diplomatic and Security Culture: Origins, Development and Prospects” by Jurgen Haacke.

On 16 August 1966, Tun Razak and Adam Malik signed the Jakarta Agreement that signified the official end to the Confrontation. The Agreement was built on the basis on an earlier Bangkok Accord that required Indonesia to recognise Malaysia diplomatically. Malaysian-Indonesian relations were eventually normalised on 31 August 1967, a few weeks after ASEAN was established.

Regional cooperation was firstly intended to exorcize the ghost of confrontation, to provide a contrast between Sukarno’s confrontative foreign policy and the New Order’s more conciliatory approach.

… Nevertheless, the urgency for Indonesia to co-found ASEAN was primarily to restore the country’s regional and international standing.

An excerpt from “Indonesia in ASEAN: Foreign Policy and Regionalism” by Dewi Fortuna Anwar.

The relevance of ASEAN in the post-Cold War era
Although some critics point out that ASEAN has yet to resolve the South China Sea dispute, many recognise ASEAN’s successes in contributing to the creation of a peaceful and stable region. In 2017, ASEAN celebrated its fiftieth anniversary. Moving forward, member nations have reaffirmed their commitment in advancing regional cooperation.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the view that the ASEAN was formed as a result of economic reasons.

Join our JC History Tuition and learn more about the regional organisation. Sign up for the online learning programme and you will receive study materials and practice questions. We teach students to think, organise and write effectively for essay and source based case study questions.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to find out more.

JC History Tuition - The Enlargement of ASEAN - JC History Essay Notes

The Enlargement of ASEAN

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]:
Paper 2: Regional Conflicts and Co-operation
Source Based Case Study
Theme III Chapter 2: Growth and development of ASEAN

Learn more about ASEAN and its member nations. [Video by Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung]

ASEAN: The Founding Five
Ever since the Bangkok Declaration was signed in 1967, ASEAN was formed by five founding member nations to promote regional cooperation. The five members are: Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.

In the 1980s and 1990s, five new members joined ASEAN, namely Brunei Darussalam (8 January 1984), Vietnam (28 July 1995), Laos and Myanmar (23 July 1997) and Cambodia (30 April 1999).

Let’s look at some of the key considerations for ASEAN’s new members, namely Vietnam and Myanmar.

1. Vietnam
Before Vietnam joined ASEAN, member nations of ASEAN did not establish strong diplomatic ties with said country. This was largely the result of Vietnam’s invasion of Cambodia in 1978. Its illegal occupation was perceived by many not only as a threat to sovereign rights, but also security risks.

Furthermore, ideological differences between ASEAN members (which mostly advocated democracy) and Vietnam further made it difficult for political leaders to see eye to eye.

Nevertheless, member nations, including Thailand (which was initially concerned with Vietnam’s military aggression in Cambodia) were supportive of admitting Vietnam due to the significant benefits to facilitate regional economic integration.

Fear of Vietnam defined ASEAN for much of its institutional history; now ASEAN’s main antagonist has joined the fold. The decision to allow Vietnam membership, and to fast-track the applications of other Southeast Asian states, was pushed by Thailand, which saw itself as the economic hub of mainland Southeast Asia and perceived ASEAN’s expansion as an opportunity to increase its own status within ASEAN.

An excerpt from “Explaining ASEAN: Regionalism in Southeast Asia” by Shaun Narine.

From the Vietnam’s perspective, the consideration of becoming part of the ASEAN family was a desirable prospect. The gradual decline of the Cold War rivalry ushered a new era of political cooperation in Southeast Asia. In 1986, the Vietnamese government conducted a policy reform, known as Doi Moi, to advance economic development. As such, Vietnam adopted a more outward-looking attitude and sought cooperation with ASEAN members.

The end of the conflict in Vietnam, and of the Cold War, removed some of the barriers to co-operation. The essential factor for Vietnam’s membership into ASEAN, however, stemmed from the policy of reform or renovation (doi moi) that the Vietnamese Communist Party announced in 1986. It was this policy that led Vietnam to approach ASEAN with increasing interest from the mid-1980s.

Excerpt from “The 2nd ASEAN Reader” edited by Sharon Siddique and Sree Kumar.

2. Myanmar
As for Myanmar, the political controversies surrounding the alleged human rights violations explained the reluctance of some member states of ASEAN in accepting Myanmar’s admission. Furthermore, Western countries, including the USA, also expressed similar sentiments towards ASEAN’s decision to admit Myanmar.

In the late 1960s, ASEAN members had invited Myanmar to join the organisation. However, Myanmar was one of the founding members of the Non-Aligned Movement and rejected the offer. In the early 1990s, the military government changed its stance as the leaders believed that a policy of isolationism was not desirable for its progress.

Notably, ASEAN’s past successes and effective political mechanisms (including the ASEAN Way) were motivating factors that spurred these countries to join the organisation as well.

According to Khin Ohn Thant (2001), there were at least two reasons which led to Burma’s decision to join ASEAN. First, towards at the end of the millennium, internal and external conditions had changed in the country. Domestically, Myanmar had expended large resources on internal security measures for decades, and now “the government had signed peace treaties with most of the revels, who have laid down their arms. This now allows the Myanmar Government to devote more attention to external matters, including ASEAN“.

The second reason, suggested by Khin, was that, “in this age of globalization and regionalism, the country realizes that it cannot continue to isolate itself. It needs to identify with a sympathetic group, which will treat it as one of them, and a group that will not exploit Myanmar’s weak situation.”

Most probably, the “ASEAN Way”, that is, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, and its consensus-building and conflict resolution mechanisms, attracted Myanmar into the embrace of ASEAN.

Excerpt from “Myanmar in ASEAN: Regional Cooperation Experience” by Mya Than.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the view that ASEAN’s enlargement was successful in promoting regional unity.

Join our JC History Tuition and learn more about ASEAN. We cover thematic issue discussion for topics like Inter-state tensions and regional co-operation. We also provide source based case study questions (SBCS) to demonstrate the application of reading and writing skills.

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JC History Tuition - ASEAN Economic Cooperation during the Cold War - JC History Essay Notes

ASEAN Economic Cooperation during the Cold War

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]:
Paper 2: Regional Conflicts and Co-operation
Source Based Case Study
Theme III Chapter 2: ASEAN (Growth and Development of ASEAN : Building regional peace and security)

ASEAN Economic Cooperation after 1976
Following the historic Bali Summit in February 1976, ASEAN members signed the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) as well as the ASEAN Concord. By doing so, member states expressed their common desire to promote economic cooperation against the backdrop of the growing threat of Communism in Southeast Asia.

However, it is imperative to observe that regional economic integration was not on the top of the priority list for many member nations.

Prior to the late 1980s, consideration of deep regional economic integration remained taboo and the focus was on economic cooperation…

ASEAN’s preference for regional economic cooperation rather than deep regional economic cooperation rather than deep integration in the 1970s and 1980s reflects the reluctance of some ASEAN countries to undertake trade and investment liberalisation owing to the pursuit of industrial policies of import substitution and picking winners.

An excerpt from “ASEAN Economic Cooperation and Integration” by Siow Yue Chia, Michael G. Plummer

According to the authors, “deep economic cooperation” refers to the removal of artificial barriers to promote international trade. In contrast, “economic integration” implies the aim of forming a Free Trade Agreement, economic community or customs union.

Diverging perceptions towards regional economic integration
Although the ASEAN Concord signified the member states’ desire to engage in regional economic cooperation through the setup of large-scale industrial projects within Southeast Asia, some had reservations over economic integration.

According to Widjojo Nitisastro, Indonesia had resisted all notions of trade liberalization and regional economic integration. Indonesia, he said, was more concerned with food, as well as energy, security and with the establishment of large-scale industrial projects.

An excerpt from “Southeast Asian in Search of an ASEAN Community: Insights from the former ASEAN Secretary-General” by Rodolfo C. Severino

Under Suharto’s leadership, Indonesian economist Widjojo Nitisastro took the lead in shaping the ‘New Order’ government’s economic policies. Notably, Nitisastro was part of the ‘Berkeley Mafia’ group that operated as technocrats to guide economic development in Indonesia.

Such views were expressed during the inaugural ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting (AEMM) that was held in March 1976. Some membere states expressed concerns over access to essential resources and food like crude oil and rice respectively.

Preferential Trading Arrangement (PTA)
The PTA was introduced in July 1977, in which member nations would allow imports from other members a “margin of preference on Most Favoured Nation (MFN) tariffs”.

After a decade of ongoing negotiations, the economic ministers agreed that the PTA would be applied to at least 90% of the items traded within ASEAN with at least 50% of the value of intra-ASEAN trade.

Unfortunately, intra-ASEAN trade remained low. During the 1991 meeting, economic ministers, it was reported that the value of intra-ASEAN trade in items covered by the PTA barely increased from US$121 million in 1987 to US$578 million in 1989.

The following document produced by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) reveals the underlying problems that explained the limited success of the PTA:

The existing low level of intra-ASEAN trade has always been the rallying point for the “regionalists”, who strongly advocate a rapid growth of intraregional trade in order to diversify the region’s market base and to reduce its over-dependence on the industrialized countries.

However, intra-ASEAN trade since 1976 has simply failed to take off in real terms and remained stagnant at around the 15 per cent…

At the same time, the stagnancy of intra-ASEAN trade also reflects the tremendous structural problems and institutional biases operating against intraregional trade.

An exceprt taken from the UNIDO report titled “Regional Industrial Co-operation: Experiences and Perspective of ASEAN and the Andean Pact“, 1983.

The ASEAN Industrial Projects (AIP)
In March 1980, the AIP was formalised to encourage member states of ASEAN to engage in economic cooperation. According to the Basic Agreement on ASEAN Industrial Projects, the host country was required to invest 60% of the equity, while the other four member nations would occupy the remaining 40%.

However, ASEAN encountered stumbling blocks against due to the perceptions of intra-ASEAN competition as possible conflicts to their national interests.

Among the approved ASEAN Industrial Projects, only the urea fertilizer plants in Aceh in northern Sumatra and Bintulu in central Sarawak have survived as such. No ASEAN country was willing to see curbs on its option to put up industries similar to those allocated to another ASEAN country.

… The ASEAN countries’ lack of enthusiasm for AIP’s other than their own was indicated by the fact that Brunei Darussalam and the Philippines, as well as Singapore, were willing to commit only one per cent each of the Thai potash project’s equity…

An excerpt from “Southeast Asian in Search of an ASEAN Community: Insights from the former ASEAN Secretary-General” by Rodolfo C. Severino

The ASEAN Way: Conflict versus Consensus-building
Nevertheless, there were member nations within ASEAN that advocated regional economic cooperation, even though the slow progress in the 1980s left much to be desired.

Given Singapore’s inherent challenges of lacking a sizable market, the government was a strong supporter of ASEAN economic integration.

We have spoken in one voice against protectionist policies. For our admonitions to be effective, however, we must practise what we preach. In our policies to promote intra-ASEAN trade, we must not put barriers to trade between ASEAN and the industrial countries. We cannot expect others to keep their markets open to ASEAN products if we close our markets to theirs.

… One cardinal principle ASEAN has practised is to agree by consensus. Consensus ensures that the national interest of any member will not be compromised. I suggest the time has come for greater latitude in defining ‘consensus’ so as to widen the areas of cooperation. When four agree and one does not object, this can still be considered as consensus; and the four should proceed with a new regional scheme. An ASEAN five-minus-one scheme can benefit the participating four without damaging the abstaining one. Indeed, the abstaining one may well be encouraged to join in later by the success of the scheme.

An excerpt from a speech by then Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew during the Ninth Meeting of the ASEAN Economic Ministers, 21 April 1980.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that ASEAN was effective in promoting regional economic co-operation from 1976 to 1991?

Join our JC History Tuition and consolidate your knowledge for topics like Regional Conflicts and Cooperation. We cover H1 and H2 History syllabus through online class discussions. By joining our online learning programme, you will receive study notes and feedback from our JC History Tutors to raise the proficiency of writing to ace the GCE A Level examinations.

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JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - How effective was ASEAN in maintaining regional security - JC History Essay Notes

How effective was ASEAN in maintaining regional security?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]:
Paper 2: Regional Conflicts and Co-operation
Source Based Case Study
Theme III Chapter 2: ASEAN (Growth and Development of ASEAN: Building regional peace and security)

Find out how ASEAN responded to the East Timorese Crisis that affected its intra-ASEAN relations, particularly Indonesia.

The Bali Summit: ASEAN Concord and TAC
Following the Bali Summit in February 1976, member states of ASEAN cooperated and produced two key documents: The ASEAN Concord and the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC). These agreements were formed in the wake of USA’s withdrawal from Indochina following the end of Vietnam War in April 1975. ASEAN members expressed their concerns over regional security due to the incoming tide of communist expansion in the region.

The ASEAN Concord was created to promote regional economic cooperation for the primary aim of regional security. For instance, the Preferential Trading Arrangements (PTA) was introduced to encourage intra-ASEAN cooperation so as to meet the economic demands of their respective countries. In subsequent years, economic ministers of the member states held annual meetings to oversee this aspect of development.

The TAC was introduced to promote the principle of non-interference and non-use of force so as to address inter-state tensions and maintain regional security. It is imperative to note that this form of political cooperation applied not only to ASEAN member states, but also for non-ASEAN countries.

A Test of Time: Indonesia’s Invasion of East Timor [December 1975]
Following the decision of the Portugal to relinquish its control of ‘Portuguese Timor’ (before it was known as East Timor) in 1974, local elections were held. Two major political parties, the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor (Fretilin) and the Timorese Democratic Union (UDT) unified to form a coalition. Yet, internal fighting broke out and the UDT carried out a coup. The Fretilin then declared East Timor independence on 28 November 1975.

The Indonesian government perceived the rise of the left-wing Fretilin as a threat to its doorstep. The Suharto administration feared the creation of a communist East Timor could destabilise Indonesia.

As such, the government launched Operasi Seroja (Operation Lotus) on 7 December 1975. It was a full-scale military invasion that toppled the Fretilin-led government. In July 1976, Indonesia declared East Timor as its twenty-seventh province, signalling a successful and forceful annexation.

Although the United Nations condemned the act, other countries such as Australia recognised the annexation. Furthermore, ASEAN members regarded the political developments as a domestic issue, thus explaining their inaction. A more critical interpretation is that the ASEAN Way hamstrung the member states from criticising and antagonising Indonesia, given the strict adherence to the principle of non-interference.

A Role Model: ASEAN’s Response to the Vietnamese Invasion of Cambodia [December 1978]
In contrast to the East Timorese crisis, ASEAN demonstrated the effectiveness of its regional unity to the world by taking the lead in condemning the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia.

In 1988, ASEAN facilitated the Jakarta Informal Meetings (1988-1990). It involved the disputing parties such as the Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea (CGDK) and the People’s Republic of Kampuchea (PRK). Notably, these closed-door meetings provided effective as a platform for conflict resolution.

ASEAN’s efforts had paid off after the great powers followed up with the signing of the Paris Peace Agreement on 23 October 1991 that marked the official end of the war.

However, it is also important to consider the improvements in the political climate by the mid-1980s that explained the successes of ASEAN’s diplomatic efforts. In particular, the willingness of Soviet Union and China to engage in political discussions to pressure Vietnam’s withdrawal was a vital factor.

Also, ASEAN’s decision to take the side of the USA and China in condemning Vietnam’s aggression conflicted with the principles of the Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality (ZOPFAN), since ASEAN initially rejected interference by external powers.

Concluding Remarks: Was ASEAN effective?
In view of these two case studies, we can conclude that ASEAN was faced with challenging circumstances to address various threats to regional security – ideological subversion and political interference. Therefore, some political leaders, historians and political observers have reconciled with these perceived contradictions to argue that certain conflicting actions were deemed necessary to achieve regional consensus.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the political effectiveness of ASEAN in response to the Third Indochina War [to be discussed in class].

Now that you have examined the case studies to analyse the applications of ASEAN’s political cooperation, it is important to attempt source-based case study questions for knowledge application. Join our JC History Tuition and learn to form logical arguments. We conduct essay writing and source based case study skills workshops to guide you through the writing process. More importantly, we teach you how to organise your points to complete these questions within the given time frame.

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