The first anniversary of the military coup in Myanmar has not just focussed attention on the dire state of the country and its suffering under the regime’s crackdowns. It has also exposed fissures in Asean, the nearly 700 million-strong Association of South-East Asian Nations to which Myanmar belongs.
Arguably the most successful regional grouping in the world – none of the 10 members would dream of trying to leave, as the UK did the EU – Asean makes much of its centrality to the Asia-Pacific’s economic, political and security architecture. And the World Economic Forum recently stated that as a whole, the association was on track to be the globe’s fourth-largest economy by 2030.
Letting Myanmar join the group in 1997 was controversial, however, as it was virtually a pariah state and had been a military dictatorship since 1962.