ASEAN in the “Brave Digital World”
As scholars review ASEAN’s performance, as well as predict likely trends of its future development, the association’s response to the challenges presented by the Fourth Industrial Revolution becomes crucial. Assessing ASEAN’s pre-digital achievements as the foundation of its response to the emerging digital challenges, the authors specify the association’s current and prospective readiness to effectively cope with them. As distinguished from numerous writings on the aftereffects of the Fourth Industrial Revolution for ASEAN, the central argument of the chapter is as follows. The key vulnerability of ASEAN’s policy is the overlap of the long-standing and present ASEAN’s shortcomings as the central reason behind its insufficient preparedness to face the digital challenges rather than the seriousness of these problems per se. The academic novelty of the research comes from distinguishing an appropriate remedy to decrease this vulnerability.
The actuality and the academic significance of the research stem from the authors’ identification and analysis of issues critical for ASEAN’s future evolution. Among these issues, the pivotal are prospects for the association to lose its digital sovereignty as a result of the intensifying Sino-American contradictions over the digital issues, the emergence of new imbalances between and within Southeast Asian states with negative implications for the ASEAN Economic Community. The aftereffects of the on-going digitalization of economic exchanges for ASEAN’s multilateral dialogue platforms and initiatives in the economic and political-security sphere. The authors’ findings on this set of issues, as well as their assessment, determine the academic originality of the paper.