Victor Teo

Project Research Fellow, Beyond The Cold War Project, University of Cambridge Centre for Research in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Victor Teo is a project research fellow at the Beyond The Cold War Project housed at the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Research in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. He was previously a visiting senior fellow under the Wang Gungwu Visiting Fellows Programme at ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute.

A UH-1J helicopter flies during a live fire exercise at Japan's Ground Self-Defense Forces (JGSDF) training grounds in the East Fuji Manuever Area in Gotemba on 22 May 2021. (Akio Kon/AFP)

Japan’s weapons transfers to Southeast Asia: Opportunities and challenges

Research fellow Victor Teo says that Japan’s re-emergence as a weapon exporter is fuelled by desires to increase Japanese capabilities, counteract China’s rise, hedge against possible future strategic abandonment by the US, fund next-generation weapon research, and foster Japan’s global leadership and influence in Southeast Asia. Using its overseas development assistance to the region, it is promoting the transfer of weapon systems, naval vessels and surveillance planes, particularly to Southeast Asian claimant states in the South China Sea. What are the implications of these actions?
People cross a street under the rain at dusk while a shinkansen N700A series, or high speed bullet train, leaves Tokyo on 21 March 2021. (Charly Triballeau/AFP)

Balancing China: Can Japan continue to be a reliable power in SEA after Abe?

Academic Victor Teo says that Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide has big shoes to fill as his predecessor Shinzō Abe had made visible and significant achievements on both the domestic and diplomatic fronts. With the Biden administration in place in the US, and a rising China amid a post-pandemic world, how will Suga's Japan engage Southeast Asia? Will he reaffirm the “silent” leadership role that Japan has played in the region through economic and security means? Furthermore, Japan has guided the US in regional matters during Trump's presidency and has been keen to include Southeast Asian countries in the Quad. Can Japan fulfil its security goals without seriously antagonising China?  
In a photo taken on 18 October 2020 people wearing face masks walk on a street in the Hongdae district of Seoul. (Ed Jones/AFP)

South Korea can do more in Southeast Asia

South Korea’s economy was one of the best-performing economies this year. Its GDP grew 1.9% quarter-on-quarter in the third quarter. ISEAS academic Victor Teo observes that with its considerable soft power and economic weight, South Korea is well-positioned to become a more important power for Southeast Asia and ASEAN.
A street vendor pushes her cart in the rain in Hanoi, 15 October 2020. (Nhac Nguyen/AFP)

How should Southeast Asian countries respond to an upsurge in Chinese investment

In this geostrategic climate, Southeast Asian countries should welcome rather than reject investments from China for their own developmental needs. Welcoming Chinese investment will also likely spur competing investments from the West and Japan.
A news report on Chinese President Xi Jinping's speech in the city of Shenzhen is shown on a public screen in Hong Kong, China, on 14 October 2020. (Roy Liu/Bloomberg)

Quad: Containing China should not be the raison d’être for any grouping

When asked in a recent interview to comment on the joint push for a "free and open Indo-Pacific" and whether it was realistic to formalise such an institution, former US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said he would like a coalition in the Asia-Pacific and the Indo-Pacific but not a coalition against something. His view is markedly different from that of many Trump officials, and is similar to that of Japan and many countries in Southeast Asia.