"ASEAN should maintain a neutral stance rather than favor any major powers," Executive Director of Center for ASEAN Studies at the University of Indonesia Edy Prasetyono stated here on Tuesday.
Neutrality means not only being impartial in its relations with major powers, but also being neutral in the disputes some of its member`s have with China or other major regional powers.
"Balance is the key. The key to balance is neutrality," he remarked.
Moreover, Southeast Asia is very strategic and important in terms of trade routes, maritime, security and so on.
Therefore major regional powers such as China, Russia, Japan, Australia and the United States want to plug their influence in Southeast Asia.
"ASEAN should formulate strategic issues to be faced in the region within the next 10-20 years.
The Trump administration raised the stakes in a growing trade showdown with China, targeting 25 percent tariffs on some 1,300 industrial technology, transport and medical products to try to force changes in Beijing`s intellectual property practices, Reuters earlier reported.
The U.S. tariff unveiling, representing about $50 billion of estimated 2018 imports and aimed at dealing a setback to China`s efforts to upgrade its manufacturing base, drew an immediate condemnation from Beijing, along with a threat of retaliatory action.
China`s Ministry of Commerce said it "will soon take measure of equal intensity and scale against U.S. goods."
"We have the confidence and ability to respond to any protectionist measures by the United States," the ministry said in a statement quoted by the official Xinhua news agency.
The ministry did not reveal any specific countermeasures, but economists widely view imports of U.S. soybeans, aircraft and machinery as prime targets for trade retaliation.
The tariff list from the U.S. Trade Representative`s office followed China`s imposition of tariffs on $3 billion worth of U.S. fruits, nuts, pork and wine to protest new U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs imposed last month by U.S. President Donald Trump.