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Why Did ASEAN Leaders Skip Davos? – The Diplomat read full article at

Why Did ASEAN Leaders Skip Davos?

Flags fly outdoors the Congress Middle in Davos, Switzerland, throughout the World Financial Discussion board, January 15, 2020.

Credit score: Depositphotos

Indonesia Evening is a scorching ticket at Davos. At this yr’s bash, a crowd of 700 sampled regional delicacies like Medan fish from Sumatra and Taliwang hen from Lombok. “The food will . . . be very good tonight,” promised Luhut Pandjaitan, a senior minister in President Joko Widodo’s cupboard. There have been rumors that Tony Blair was within the room.

The World Financial Discussion board (WEF) is bullish on Southeast Asia. One of many buzzy acronyms circulating on the meet was VIP markets: particularly Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines. But most leaders from the Affiliation of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) selected to provide the annual jamboree of worldwide elites at Davos a miss. Solely Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. of the Philippines introduced a large contingent. Asia general had a low-key displaying, with solely three heads of state or authorities out of the 52 who attended.

This yr’s gathering at Davos, which started on January 16, was additionally lacking a slew of marquee names who had attended up to now. In 2017, then Vice President Joe Biden, Xi Jinping, Theresa Could, and Shakira have been among the many visitors. China’s president delivered the keynote handle. ASEAN was represented by Cambodia’s Hun Sen and Vietnam’s Nguyen Xuan Phuc, each regulars on the Davos speaker circuit. Nonetheless, this yr Hun Sen skipped the occasion, and Phuc resigned as president whereas the WEF annual assembly was in session.

Amongst Asian individuals, there’s a sense that the occasion is drifting away from its international agenda. Nikkei Asia referred to the assembly as “a eurocentric gathering.”  After final yr’s convention, Malaysian columnist Karim Raslan wrote, “How can it be a “World” Financial Discussion board when the issues of Asia, which can contribute 60 % of worldwide development by 2030, are disregarded?” The battle in Ukraine is likely one of the areas of concern. Some ASEAN nations argue that sanctions in opposition to Russia are counterproductive. Hun Sen told a Davos viewers final yr, “Sanctions should be stopped because they don’t produce any benefits. Not only do poor countries suffer, even the countries that issued the sanctions are affected.”

Summit fatigue may very well be one more reason for the absence of ASEAN leaders at Davos. Southeast Asia hosted a trio of conferences in November  that arguably surpassed Davos in star energy.  The visitor listing for the G-20 summit in Bali included Biden, Xi, and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Biden additionally dropped in on the ASEAN summit and associated conferences in Phnom Penh. U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris spoke on the APEC assembly in Bangkok, which Xi additionally attended.

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On the sidelines of the ASEAN convention, WEF founder and Chairman Klaus Schwab persuaded the Philippines president to make the journey to Davos. Manila information media famous that Marcos was the one ASEAN chief in attendance. Rappler commented: “Perhaps other ASEAN leaders figured the frivolity of the event, or realized they can grow their economies robustly without having to hobnob with the Davos elite.”

The Davos connection has change into “politically toxic” for world leaders within the post-COVID-19 period. “Its star is fading a bit. If you look at who’s coming, it used to be that there were really serious heavyweights. This year, there’s only one G-7 leader,” observed Zanny Minton Beddoes, editor-in-chief of The Economist. “But at the same time, I do actually think it’s useful. And it’s particularly useful in a world that is…  fragmenting.”

Over a decade in the past, a Brookings essay requested: “Are Davos Man’s Days Numbered?” The recognition of Indonesia Evening would possibly recommend in any other case. But for a lot of in public workplace, the schmoozefest on the ski resort within the Swiss Alps now not holds the identical attraction.

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