By Takahiro Kamisuna, Research Assistant

Upon the admission of Timor-Leste to ASEAN membership, the Centre for Geopolitics hosted two online panels on ‘Timor-Leste and ASEAN’ on 25th and 28th April 2023, inviting scholars from the UK, Australia, Malaysia, Japan and Timor-Leste. The first panel on 25 April discussed the geopolitical implications of Timor-Leste’s participation in ASEAN from different perspectives of ASEAN (Lee Jones), Australia (Bec Strating) and Timor-Leste (Mica Barreto Soares). The second panel on 28 April more broadly focused on the socio-historical analysis of ASEAN and Timor-Leste relations in which panelists discussed different perceptions of ASEAN between ASEAN member states and Timor-Leste (Khoo Ying Hooi), transnational social movements between ASEAN and Timor-Leste (Takahiro Kamisuna) and the domestic narrative of ‘readiness’ in Timor-Leste to join ASEAN (Ariel Mota Alves) with Asian scholars. Both panels were joined by roughly 15 participants from different parts of the world.

While speakers exhibited differently insightful arguments on Timor-Leste and ASEAN relations, one of the most interesting takeaways was that the perception of ‘China’s influence in ASEAN’ is significantly different between the first and second panels. It seems the definition of influence is different between those who specifically focus on geopolitical and security affairs and those who more broadly discuss the cultural and normative influence of China on Timor-Leste and ASEAN. By inviting various scholars from different nationalities and intellectual backgrounds, the set of panels was able to show its wide range of arguments on Timor-Leste and ASEAN relations both from the contemporarily geopolitical perspective and socio-historical perspective.


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