William Choong

William Choong

Senior fellow, ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute

William Choong is a Senior Fellow at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, and is the Editor of the ISEAS Commentaries series. From 2013 to 2020, he was a Shangri-La Dialogue Senior Fellow for Asia-Pacific Security at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). At the IISS, he helped to run the annual IISS Shangri-La Dialogue and contributed to research on regional security issues such as the South China Sea territorial disputes and Japan’s evolution into a ‘normal’ power. He was formerly a Senior Writer at The Straits Times, where he wrote columns on defence and security issues.

Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (back right) and Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (back left) attend a document exchange ceremony with Japan Coast Guard Commandant Shohei Ishii (front right) and Philippine Coast Guard Commandant Ronnie Gil Gavan (front left) at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo, Japan, 17 December 2023. Both countries leaders met on the sidelines of the Commemorative Summit for the 50th Year of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation. (Franck Robichon/Reuters)

Japan’s arms transfers to Southeast Asia: Upping the ante?

Japan's new Official Security Assistance (OSA) scheme would help arm regional countries in the face of growing Chinese assertiveness. A lesser-known aspect of OSA might actually bring some serious military capabilities to the region in the future.
US President Joe Biden (right) with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (left) at the White House in Washington, DC, on 27 October 2023. (CNS)

China-US high-level dialogues: A welcome uptick but a long road ahead

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s recent meeting with US President Joe Biden in Washington indicates that high-level exchanges between the two powers are gaining momentum. But there is still a long way to go.
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol (centre) departs after addressing a Joint Meeting of Congress in the House Chamber of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on 27 April 2023. (Stefani Reynolds/AFP)

South Korea's 'global pivotal state' ambition is a tall order

South Korea has far-reaching geopolitical ambitions but focusing on the regions closest to it will bring more dividends in a competitive world.
Taiwan's armed forces hold two days of routine drills to show combat readiness ahead of Lunar New Year holidays at a military base in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, 11 January 2023. (Ann Wang/Reuters)

Southeast Asians mull over a Taiwan conflict: Big concerns but limited choices

In the event of hostilities in the Taiwan Strait, Southeast Asian countries will face a difficult dilemma. Their latitude for manoeuvre will be limited, particularly as the Philippines, a key ASEAN member and a US treaty ally, prepares to provide base access to the US in such a contingency.
US President Joe Biden (right) and China's President Xi Jinping (left) shake hands as they meet on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Nusa Dua on the Indonesian resort island of Bali on 14 November 2022. (Saul Loeb/AFP)

US pivot to Asia: Managing relationship with China crucial

While the Americans have made noticeable progress in their “pivot” to Asia, the crux of successful regional engagement rests on Washington’s ability to work with and around China’s indisputable links and influence in this part of the world, while managing its own relationship with Beijing.
US President Joe Biden shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping as they meet on the sidelines of the G20 Leaders' Summit in Bali, Indonesia, 14 November 2022. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

A Xi-Biden handshake does not bridge the Sino-US schism, but it's a start

The handshakes and smiles in Bali have triggered some optimism about Sino-US relations going forward. Yet the slight uptick in Sino-US relations post-Bali might well be short-lived, given the superpowers’ underlying structural competition and deep mutual distrust.
A handout photograph released by the UK Parliament shows Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaking during his first Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) in the House of Commons in London on 26 October 2022. (Jessica Taylor/AFP)

The UK's 'tilt' towards the Indo-Pacific may not be sustainable

The UK has launched a robust “tilt” towards the Indo-Pacific. To its credit, it has executed a series of high-profile diplomatic engagements and military deployments to the region. The question, however, is not about London’s desire to engage with the dynamic region but whether this tilt can be sustained.
A Taiwanese military outpost on Shihyu islet is seen past anti-landing spikes placed along the coast of Lieyu islet on Taiwan's Kinmen islands, which lie just 3.2 kms (two miles) from the mainland China coast, on 10 August 2022. (Sam Yeh/AFP)

When a lack of US-China dialogue on Taiwan might lead to war

Washington and Beijing’s refusal to talk calmly to each other about the ongoing Taiwan crisis raises the stakes for Southeast Asia, which is already dealing with the repercussions of the chill between the great powers.
Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong with the ASEAN Committee of Permanent Representatives at the ASEAN Secretariat, 6 June 2022. (Twitter/@SenatorWong)

'Hard yakka' ahead for Australia and ASEAN relations

Australia has made significant inroads in its engagement with ASEAN. But Canberra’s relationship with the grouping will be a hard slog, given their differences in approaching China and ensuring that China-US rivalry does not derail regional aspirations. In the meantime, Australia remains involved with the US in groupings including AUKUS and the Quad, maintaining relations with Japan and India.