søndag 11. april 2021

US-China rivalry: is the pressure on for Asean countries to choose sides?

“Don’t force us to choose” has been a common refrain in Southeast Asia as Washington and Beijing clash over trade, technology and the South China Sea. But to political science professor Khong Yuen Foong, the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) have already largely aligned themselves with either China or the United States. Khong, vice dean for research and development at Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, said at a recent webinar that Cambodia and Laos were clearly closer to China, having developed stronger political and economic ties with Beijing in recent years.

Vietnam and Singapore, on the other hand, had found “greater strategic comfort with the US”, he said, adding that countries such as Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia had moved away from the US in recent years to become more embedded in the Chinese orbit.