Reports: 40 years of ASEAN


The Asia New Zealand Foundation has published two new reports as part of a suite of papers commissioned by the Foundation in 2015 to mark 40 years of diplomatic relations with ASEAN. They are Dr Malcolm McKinnon's New Zealand ASEAN: A History, and Dr Nicholas Khoo's ASEAN’s Relations with the Great Powers in the Post-Cold War Era: Challenges and Opportunities.

New Zealand and ASEAN: A History

Awardees and Ministers crop

Awardees and ministers at the 40th ASEAN Anniversary Awards


Last year, New Zealand marked 40 years of diplomatic relations with the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). Dr Malcolm McKinnon presents a comprehensive narrative of this relationship, incorporating a treasure trove of valuable references and sources to present a rich and nuanced account of our country’s foreign policy for the region.

The paper charts the changing lens through which NZ has viewed ASEAN: from the Cold War dynamics and internal frictions that marked the early years of ASEAN’s formation, through to ASEAN’s expansion and economic dynamism. Forty years on, ASEAN is now one of New Zealand’s most important trading partners, and a key touchpoint for New Zealand’s diplomacy in the region. 

The paper is recommended reading for anyone new to the relationship who needs to understand its evolution.


ASEAN’s Relations with the Great Powers


Dr Nicholas Khoo presents a summary of the issues and challenges for the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in the 21st century with rich detail and careful analysis. His historical account of ASEAN’s evolving relationships with the US, China and Japan in particular also points out implications for New Zealand policy makers.

ASEAN has always found itself exposed to the temperament of larger strategic great powers – as the headlines attest, this continues to be the case to this day. Territorial claims in the South China Sea and the US ‘rebalance’ towards Asia have placed ASEAN at centre stage. This paper charts how ASEAN has calibrated these relationships, both internally and externally – assuming a leading role in shaping the region’s politics, economics, and security.