The Foreign Service Institute organized a Mabini Dialogue on Asia Power Index 2023 on 1 March 2023 at the Carlos P. Romulo Library, DFA. The event featured a presentation by Ms. Susannah Patton, Project Lead of the Asia Power Index and Director of Southeast Asia Program of the Lowy Institute.
Published annually since 2018, the Asia Power Index (API) is Lowy Institute’s analytical tool that ranks twenty-six (26) countries and territories in the region. The API evaluates these countries and territories through 133 indicators across eight thematic measures of economic capability, military capability, resilience, and future resources, defense networks, economic relationships, diplomatic influence, and cultural influence.
Ms. Patton discussed the performance of the US and China in the rankings. The US scored higher than China on six out of eight indicators of the API: economic capability, military capability, resilience, future resources, defense networks and cultural influence. China scored higher in its diplomatic influence and economic relationships. She stressed that the two superpowers continue to be the dominant influences in Asia.
Japan and India, which ranked third and fourth respectively, have a significant gap with the US and China. “With the US and China at the top of the index, the region’s middle powers however are not closing the gap,” Patton emphasized. She said India, though diplomatically strong, needs to improve its engagements with Asia. India is also not as economically integrated with Asia. China, on the other hand, has become a significant economic partner of South Asian countries.
Ms. Patton also touched on the general decline of resilience in the region given the effects of the pandemic. Countries in Southeast Asia (SEA) have also been examined, with a general observation that SEA performed well in the diplomatic influence indicator.
The report indicated that the Philippines is ranked 16th in the overall index ranking and 6th among its SEA neighbors, maintaining its middle power influence. The Philippines scored best in the defense network indicator, ranking 9th among the 26 countries because of its security alliance with the US.
Participants to the Mabini Dialogue were from the DFA’s Office of the Undersecretary for Bilateral Relations and ASEAN Affairs, Office of Asian and Pacific Affairs, American Affairs, and United Nations and other International Organizations. Also present were retired Philippine ambassadors and representatives from the embassies of Indonesia, Australia, Singapore and Brunei. Other research and academic institutions that joined the event included Stratbase ADR Institute, Philippine Institute for Development Studies, Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation, and the Lyceum of the Philippines University Manila.