What's Next After ASEAN's New AI Guide on Governance and Ethics?
Plus twin new South China Sea drills; third parties in US-China competition; new semiconductor hub plans; fresh EV roadmap; post-coup economic realities & more.
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For this iteration of ASEAN Wonk BulletBrief, we are looking at:
Assessing the geopolitical and geoeconomic significance of the adoption of ASEAN’s first-ever artificial intelligence framework;
Mapping of regional developments including Southeast Asia’s newest strategic partnership and twin new South China Sea drills;
Charting evolving security, geopolitical and geoeconomic trends such as on the role of third parties in U.S.-China competition; new illicit finance allegations in Southeast Asia and tracking forced labor trade statistics;
Tracking and analysis of industry developments and quantitative indicators including new semiconductor hub plans; a fresh electric vehicles roadmap; post-coup economic realities and more;
And much more! ICYMI, with the focus on Indonesia’s Feb. 14 polls, check out the first iteration of our new interview series on the country’s future foreign policy outlook beyond the lens of U.S.-China competition.
WonkCount: 1,811 words (~9 minutes reading time)
Twin New Joint South China Sea Drills; New Strategic Partnership; Myanmar Military Conscription & More
Third Party Partners in US-China Competition; Armament Transparency & Geopolitics of Undersea Cables
“Both the EU and India have emerged as significant players seeking to deepen their engagement with Southeast Asia, positioning themselves as credible third-party partners amid the ongoing US-China contest,” notes a latest iteration of a series of briefs by the Southeast Asia Public Policy Institute analyzing key relationships between the region and major powers focused on the European Union and India (link).
“With growing tensions in Asia, it is important to continue and expand transparency processes,” concludes a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute on armament transparency in Southeast Asia. It includes several recommendations on how to improve participation in and relevance of the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, including expanding reporting; greater flexibility on submissions deadlines; more considered rotation of staff to preserve institutional memory; and greater training opportunities (link).
Armament Transparency Across Southeast Asian States (As Measured by 1992-2022 Participation in UNROCA)
“US-China competition is resulting in a fragmentation of cable networks, and consequently, Southeast Asian countries are increasingly being forced to choose between infrastructure provided by China and infrastructure provided by the US and its partners,” argues a new publication by the Center for Indo-Pacific Affairs at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. The piece suggests several policy recommendations, including convening a Track II-level dialogue to discuss cross-cutting technological issues (link).
What's Next After ASEAN's New Artificial Intelligence Framework?
What’s Behind It
ASEAN released a new regional artificial intelligence (AI) framework to guide institutions looking to deploy AI across sectors1. The ASEAN Guide on Artificial Intelligence Governance and Ethics was released following a meeting of ASEAN digital ministers held in Singapore February 1-22. The release had been the subject of speculation since last year, with Singapore expected to make it a focus of its chairmanship of the ASEAN Digital Ministers Meeting in 20243.
Select Recent National AI Approaches in Major ASEAN Markets
The new ASEAN AI framework is the latest sign of regional thinking within Southeast Asia on AI despite the realities of divergent national frameworks and global outlooks. Few regions offer the weight and promise of ASEAN’s digital economy, and AI is part of that story4. But as we have noted before on ASEAN Wonk, that quest for regional harmonization is complicated by realities including intensifying U.S.-China competition, a still-nascent global standards picture as well as massive disparities across Southeast Asian countries on AI readiness and approaches that continue into 2024 (see table above for a snapshot of some examples of national AI frameworks adopted over the past few years)5.
Why It Matters
Apart from the general principles, the new ASEAN AI guide also highlights some of the specific areas where future alignment is needed within the region across stakeholders. Officials familiar with the drafting process of the framework have indicated that some of these realms at least provide a sense of the parameters around which AI governance will be shaped in the region, despite the aforementioned national and global challenges (see the table below for a snapshot of key areas as well as their significance)6.