Increasingly sophisticated competition in the Indo-Pacific requires countries to harness whole-of-society efforts to protect their interests and enhance resilience. The Philippines and Vietnam are two countries heavily exposed to coercive activities, particularly in the maritime, economic, and cognitive domains.

To assist both countries in identifying steps to counter these assertive actions and expand dialogue under their Strategic Partnership, the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (DKI APCSS) and the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) hosted a bilateral workshop in Yokohama, Japan. Thirty Track 2 participants – from leading universities, think tanks, and industries in the Philippines and Vietnam – met on April 8-11, 2024, for candid discussions about the shared challenges of building resilience to coercive activity.

According to the workshop academic lead, Dr. Lori Forman, “Expanding use of coercive actions threatens the rules-based order, which is the basis of a free, open, and resilient Indo-Pacific region.” Forman noted that together with GRIPS and U.S. interagency colleagues, the team designed this workshop around the notion it is easy to break one stick but hard to break a bundle. “We are more resilient when we work together.”

Participants identified multiple cases where both countries have experienced coercion in the maritime, economic, and cognitive domains. During the final day of the workshop, they proposed numerous domestic and bilateral recommendations to increase resilience and mitigate the effects of coercive activities. Charge d ’affairs Ray Greene, from the U.S. Embassy Tokyo, provided commentary on the recommendations.

DKI APCSS Director Pete Gumataotao

“Before this workshop, there were few opportunities for Track 2 participants from the Philippines and Vietnam to meet on these topics,” noted Dr. Alex Vuving. “This was a unique forum for discussing shared challenges and developing joint ideas.” By the close of the workshop, several participants made agreements to co-author articles on topics of mutual interest. The group also expressed strong interest in continuing this Track 2 dialogue.

Dr. Forman noted, “The true strength of this workshop was the diversity of participants across public and private sectors while also incorporating functional expertise within the economic, maritime, and cognitive (information) domains.”

According to DKI APCSS Director Pete Gumataotao, “In-region workshops like this play an important role in developing relationships and building shared awareness of challenges with the fundamental goal of creating conditions for increased cooperation.”

Facilitators for the workshop included DKI APCSS faculty Dr. Alex Vuving. Dr. Ginnie Watson, and Lt.Col. Rob Gramling; Dr. Yusuke Takagi and Capt. Kentaro Furuya from GRIPS; and Ms. Erina Harada from the Japan Foundation. Expert presentations and commentary were provided by Ambassador Kentaro Fujimoto (Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Dr. Narushige Michishita (GRIPS), Dr. Euan Graham (Senior Analyst, Australian Strategic Policy Institute), Ms. Kristi Hunt (Indo-Pacific Security Affairs, U.S. Dept of Defense) and Charge d’Affairs Ray Greene (U.S. Embassy Tokyo).

At the close of the workshop, Director Gumataotao expressed gratitude for the close collaboration with GRIPS and the active participation of the Philippines and Vietnam experts. This workshop laid a solid foundation for a continuing Track 2 dialogue between the Philippines and Vietnam.