The Future of ASEAN- Japan-China Cooperation: Challenges and Opportunities

Prof. Wilfrido V. Villacorta, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus, De La Salle University

Final Lecture presented as Visiting Research Fellow, Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University on 19 July 2018.


The world has changed. New institutions and actors have arisen, a new order is emerging. It is but to be expected that aging powers should resist and desperately cling on to what remains of their dominant standing. It is the fierce rivalry perpetuated by them that exacerbates the threat of global conflict and the human crisis. Obsessed with containment, deterrence, divide-and-rule policy and balance of power, most traditional powers are intent on recovering their colonial supremacy.

This is the objective of my study—to find out what the roles are of ASEAN, Japan and China in the fast transformation of Asia’s security architecture. The Indo-Pacific concept that is being promoted by the QUAD countries is a very interesting case study. It is meant to preserve the status quo ante—the US-led global ancien regime. The Indo-Pacific notion, which is supposedly founded on “a rules-based order,” unjustly steals the nomenclature “Asia” from public consciousness and perception of our great centuries-old identity. Will Japan continue to be a party to the elimination of Asia as the center of global development? Will it continue to endure the recriminations hurled by the United States, at its traditional allies and its impositions on trade and security? How much will the trade war take its toll on the Trans-Atlantic alliance? Will it hasten the implosion of the US global leadership under Donald Trump and beyond? Will ASEAN have to take sides in the divisive issue of Indo-Pacific versus Asia-Pacific? What will be its consequences? Will Japan, India and ASEAN member-states – themselves crucial Asian countries– tolerate the “geographic cleansing” of Asia, the oldest world civilization in history, merely to give way to the insatiable hegemonic designs of the West and the Asia-phobia of some of its leaders?

What about China and the two Koreas? Are they just going to look the other way, as the identity and legacy of their ancestry is being obliterated?

About the Speaker:

Dr. Wilfrido V. Villacorta is a Trustee of Asia Pacific Pathways to Progress. He is currently a Visiting Research Fellow at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies in Kyoto University. He is a Professor Emeritus at De La Salle University, Manila, Philippines. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Political Science at the University of the Philippines, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Politics, major in International Law and Relations, at the Catholic University of America, Washington D.C. He was a delegate to the 1986 Constitutional Commission. He started his career with ASEAN when he was appointed as Deputy Secretary-General from 2003-2006, and Philippine Ambassador and Permanent Representative to ASEAN from 2010- 2012. These were critical periods for the regional organization when the ASEAN Community was launched (2003), the writing of the ASEAN Charter began (2006), and the South China Sea dispute became an issue (2012).