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What Is ASEAN?

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a regionally-based international organisation with ten members. ASEAN was created in 1967 with five members: Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. In a region divided by the Cold War and with warfare threatening Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, there was a need for an international forum to promote peace and security, as well as economic growth. Since the governmental types of its members were both different and antagonistic towards each other, ASEAN has functioned from the beginning on the principle of non-interference. That is, no ASEAN government will criticize in public what another ASEAN government does in its own territory. Of course, private conversation is quite a different matter, although even so few heads of state in the region have ever been willing to listen to criticism from anyone else.


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