ASEAN-China

Japan's strategy in Southeast Asia is moving, despite difficulties. (Aris Messinis/REUTERS)

Targeting China, Japan’s Indo-Pacific strategy in Southeast Asia runs into headwinds?

Japan has taken the lead in propagating a vision of regional order for more than a decade. Its geopolitical strategy seeks to constrain China at a time when Southeast Asian countries fret about China’s military buildup, its expansion in the South China Sea and its controversial Belt and Road Initiative. ISEAS academic William Choong explains why Japan's endeavours have not been smooth, yet should not be discounted yet. 
A mural featuring US President Donald Trump (R) and Chinese President Xi Jinping wearing face covers in Berlin on April 28, 2020. (John Macdougall/AFP)

Unfavourable views: Southeast Asia's perceptions of China and the US worsen amid Covid-19

Even amid the coronavirus, US-China rivalry has not eased, but has been ramped up instead. This has not helped the image of either country. ISEAS academics Malcolm Cook and Ian Storey look at how negative impressions of both countries have been reinforced in Southeast Asian countries.
A woman walks in front of a drawing of Chinese President Xi Jinping on a wall at the Leishenshan Hospital that had offered beds for coronavirus patients in Wuhan, April 11, 2020. (Noel Celis/AFP)

Covid-19: China’s shifting narrative and the role of Southeast Asia

Did Covid-19 originate in Wuhan? Were ASEAN countries friendly to China in this fight against the pandemic? Who provided aid to whom? Lye Liang Fook examines how China's narrative has changed since the coronavirus epidemic began and to what extent Southeast Asia has played a role in this process.
A jetty in Sabah, Borneo. Malaysia has claims in the South China Sea against China as well as other SEA countries. (iStock)

Amid domestic political change, Malaysia sticks to trusted formula for South China Sea disputes

After decades, claims by various countries in the South China Sea remain unresolved. ISEAS senior fellow Ian Storey focuses on Malaysia, noting that while its leadership has changed, its strategy towards handling China with regard to the South China Sea has remained the same.
Cambodian workers exit their factory as they take a lunch break in Phnom Penh, March 2, 2020. Cambodia's multi-billion-dollar garment industry is at risk of chain disruption from the Covid-19 breakout, as its impacts hammer on Southeast Asia's key industries. (Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP)

Wake-up call for ASEAN countries: Curb over-reliance on China and seize opportunities of global supply chain restructuring

After this battle with the Covid-19 coronavirus, each ASEAN country should step up its emergency preparedness and national resilience capacities in dealing with similar pandemics. But health concerns aside, the outbreak also highlights the region’s high reliance on China in economics and trade. As global supply chains realign in the wake of the crisis, Southeast Asian countries should implement bold domestic reforms and vigorously develop their manufacturing sectors to be in the best position to reap the benefits.
Qing Dynasty, All Nations Come to Pay Tribute (《万国来朝图》), partial, The Palace Museum. (Internet)

The tributary system resurrected in Southeast Asia?

Chinese researcher Peng Nian, from the National Institute for South China Sea Studies in China, considers whether China is really eager to revive a master-subordinate relationship with its former tributary states.
Chinese President Xi Jinping with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen at the Great Hall of the People, 5 February 2020. (Xinhua)

Hun Sen’s China visit: Love in the time of coronavirus

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen visiting China while the latter is knee-deep in efforts to contain the new coronavirus provides some food for thought. ISEAS academic Lye Liang Fook analyses what it means for China-Cambodia relations.
China is having difficulties in translating its growing hard power into soft power. (David Gray/Reuters)

China has a major soft power problem in Asia

Based on findings from not one, but three recent opinion polls, ISEAS senior fellow Malcolm Cook finds that there is a serious level of distrust of China in Asia.
Votes are split between China and the US if respondents have to choose between the two. (Reproduced by Jace Yip with permission from ASEAN Studies Centre at ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute)

ASEAN’s future: China or the US?

An online survey by the ASEAN Studies Centre at ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute shows that Southeast Asian opinion leaders are split down the middle when it comes to strategic alignment with the US or China. But who says it has to be one or the other? With US involvement in the region on a lower ebb and wariness of China on the rise, players such as Japan and the EU are increasingly looked upon as attractive and reliable alternatives.