A first for FSI as Meeting Co-host: Digital Working Group Meeting of NACT Country Coordinators and experts.

“In a contactless world, most interactions with customers and employees must take place virtually… Operating digitally is the only way to stay in business (amid) mandated shutdowns and restricted activity,” remarked Professor Gao Fei, Vice President of China Foreign Affairs University (CFAU), at the Network of ASEAN-China Think Tanks (NACT) Working Group Meeting on 12 October 2020.

The Meeting, co-hosted by the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) and CFAU, brought together experts and scholars from ASEAN and China to discuss the opportunities and challenges of the digital economy.

2020 is the ASEAN-China Year of Digital Economy Cooperation, which is then highlighted in this year’s Meeting theme, “Advancing Regional Cooperation on Managing Digital Platforms: Implications and the Way Forward for ASEAN and China in the New Normal.”

The theme reflects NACT´s effort “to address the many issues of the digital age as a cohesive ASEAN Community, with China as a dynamic and vibrant partner,” explained Hon. Celeste Vinzon-Balatbat, FSI Officer-in-Charge (Director-General), in her Opening Remarks.

The Meeting, divided into three sessions, covered a wide range of issues: In the first session, speakers from Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia discussed the frameworks, strategies, and initiatives being implemented by their respective governments to harness the sustainable development potential of digital platforms. They shared the good practices of private enterprises and digital platform regulators to promote socio-economic development and jobs creation.

In the second session, experts from the Philippines, Laos, and Malaysia presented the risks and challenges of digital platforms and discussed ways to bridge the digital divide.

In the third session, scholars from Singapore and China explored the ways forward for ASEAN-China cooperation in managing digital platforms.

NACT was established in 2014 to promote academic exchanges between ASEAN and China. It is composed of think-tanks from the 10 ASEAN Member States and China. It conducts Working Group Meetings, conferences, and research studies to further ASEAN-China relations and provide a strong intellectual support to policymakers to deepen strategic partnership. FSI is NACT Country Coordinator for the Philippines.

Professor Gao Fei (pinned photo, left), Vice President of China Foreign Affairs University, addresses NACT members.
Ms. Celeste Vinzon-Balatbat (pinned photo, left), Officer-in-Charge (Director-General) and NACT Philippines’s Country Coordinator, highlights an important message to end the meeting: “It is through regular and collaborative Track 2 interactions that we can enhance our understanding of the world´s complex, emerging issues.”