Southeast Asia

China's Soft Power

The dramatic rise of China as a global power with immense geopolitical ambitions has been a largely economic and military story.  Until recently, the one component largely missing from China’s arsenal has been “soft power”–instruments of persuasion and cultural/intellectual influence.  That is no longer the case, but soft power as currently employed by Beijing has a distinctly hard edge.

ASEAN and the U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy

Pending any last-minute changes, U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence is set to attend the next round of Asian summitry in Singapore in November on behalf of U.S. President Donald Trump. While the agenda for Pence’s trip will no doubt be wide-ranging, his visit to the region will spotlight the Trump administration’s Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) strategy and the role of Southeast Asia and ASEAN as a regional grouping within it.

ASEAN's Role in a U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy

Over the past few months, top U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, have begun fleshing out a vision for Indo-Pacific region, which U.S. President Donald Trump first publicly unveiled in a speech at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Vietnam back in December 2017.

The Future of the Quad is in Southeast Asia

Much has already been made of the so-called “Quad” mechanism linking Japan, India, Australia, and the United States, which was announced during President Trump’s November 2017 trip to Asia.

Why We Ignore Bangladesh at Our Peril

Earlier this month, armed men on motorcycles attacked the vehicle of Marcia Bernicat, the U.S. ambassador to Bangladesh, as she was leaving a dinner party in the capital city of Dhaka. According to local media reports, the men chased and threw bricks at her motorcade.

Fortunately, Bernicat and her retinue were unharmed. As of this writing, the perpetrators have not been identified.

It’s not often that a U.S. ambassador is attacked while posted overseas. And yet, the incident received relatively little media attention in the United States.

Special Issue of Asian Affairs Addresses Religious Freedom in South Asia

The Asia Program is pleased to announce the publication of a special issue of the journal Asian Affairs edited by Wilson Center fellow Dr. Neeti Nair and Asia Program deputy director Michael Kugelman.

Singapore Center Stage

There was something inevitable about the choice of Singapore as a venue for the U.S.-North Korean Summit. Still, it was not a given. The Chinese wanted the event in China. Both Koreas reportedly wanted to revisit the Kim-Moon Summit venue at the DMZ. President Trump was enamored with the show biz potential of the DMZ but was finally persuaded that he should not be seen as visiting Kim on his turf. Another potential venue, Ulan Bator in Mongolia, was too far from the center ring of international media attention.

Southeast Asia’s Balancing Act

It has been said so often that it has become a trope. Broadly speaking, the nations of Southeast Asia do not want to be forced to choose between China and the United States. The logic of this is straightforward–good relations with each great power offers unique benefits, and those in Southeast Asia would prefer to enjoy those benefits without risk or cost. Yet a closer analysis of dynamics in Southeast Asia, especially in the past 12 months, suggests a far more complex–and for the United States, troubling–dynamic is at play.
 

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