Neighbors and kin: ASEAN as an Ecumene? Perceptions from a Timorese perspective
Nadine Lobner Competing Regional Integrations in Southeast Asia Program (CRISEA)
Paulo Castro Seixas Instituto de Ciências Sociais e Políticas - Universidade de Lisboa (ISCSP-UL), PORTUGAL; Competing Regional Integrations in Southeast Asia Program (CRISEA); Projeto FCT "As Crianças e o seu Direito à Cidade" (CRICITY)
Nuno Canas Mendes Instituto de Ciências Sociais e Políticas - Universidade de Lisboa (ISCSP-UL), PORTUGAL; Instituto do Oriente - Instituto de Ciências Sociais e Políticas - Universidade de Lisboa (IO-ISCSP-UL), PORTUGAL
The aim of this paper is to contribute to understanding ASEAN’s centrality in the midst of a global pandemic crisis. We approach this issue through the case study of Timor-Leste. Understanding that the regional identity remains under constant re-negotiations in-between several global actors, this domain reaches another level through drastic changes covid-19 causes – whereof inequity increases. The poorer the country, the weaker the health system, the more vulnerable the people; means less resilience and higher risks/costs – being the case of Timor-Leste in a continuous attempt of becoming part of ASEAN to seek its support. Globalization and its derivatives as international regions (EU/ASEAN) seem to be suspended by Covid-19. There is a return of sovereignties. The confinement shows in several tiers: from cities to countries. We propose to analyze ASEAN’s centrality through the economic gaze of re-considering its regional power within the global context, taking China as counter-actor. Recent debates on this issue reveal (Jianguo, 2020; Dermawan, 2020; Rakhmat, 2020; Mulakala & Ji, 2020) that there is great effort made by China to support Timor-Leste within the pandemic crisis. ASEAN, on the opposite, is not on the forefront in supporting the country for preventing in negative impact of the virus on various sectors. Following this, we propose that the competition for globalization between ASEAN/China (a rivalry for centrality within the region) may be analyzed through the relation between both players in the realm of covid-19 in Timor-Leste.