As part of the East-West Center’s ongoing collaboration with the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) in Singapore, please see a new workshop report entitled Southeast Asia’s Place in Asia: Perceptions, Realities and Aspirations. This brief report reflects discussions at a meeting held in Singapore in October, and has been drafted by Bronson Percival, Visiting Fellow, East-West Center in Washington.
In the report, American experts addressed the challenge of assessing the implications of Southeast Asia’s higher profile in Asia. It found that:
a) Competition between China and the United States has increased Southeast Asia’s strategic significance in the Indo-Pacific region.
b) Southeast Asians believe their growing trade relationship with China is compatible with continued diplomatic and security hedging against China. Whether an increasingly dense and complex economic relationship and continued hedging is sustainable in the future is not clear.
c) The Association of Southeast Asian Nation’s (ASEAN) “soft coherence” both amplifies Southeast Asian states’ voices in Asia and protects their autonomy. ASEAN’s utility is often under-appreciated outside the region.
This report builds on the ongoing ASEAN Matters for America/America Matters for ASEAN Initiative and a recent special issue of the ISEAS journal Contemporary Southeast Asia on United States bilateral relations with selected Southeast Asian countries.
To read the full report, download it here (PDF).