ASEAN is now 53 years old. All dialogue partners now pay ritual obeisance to “ASEAN centrality,” yet ASEAN’s relevance is still regularly questioned.
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For all the concern this year that political tensions between Australia and China might harm trade and investment, this isn’t the most acute stress in the bilateral relationship. Compared with the battering that people-to-people ties are receiving, the current economic dramas rate a distant second.
Having a chair at the UN Human Rights Council is a privilege to many countries, and Australia is the first Pacific nation to achieve this goal. However, Australia’s presence at the Council has not been matched by a resolve to eliminate domestic and international human rights abuses.