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Think tank : China Gains Ground Over US in Regional Dynamics


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A recent survey conducted by the Singapore-based think tank ISEAS sheds light on evolving geopolitical sentiments in Southeast Asia. The findings indicate a notable shift in preference towards China over the United States among respondents from ASEAN member states.

Rising Preference for China:

The survey reveals that for the first time, a majority of respondents (50.5%) from Southeast Asian countries would opt for China over the United States if forced to choose between the two superpowers. This marks a significant increase compared to previous years, with an 11.6 percentage point rise in respondents favoring China.

Factors Driving Preference:

Countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, and Laos have witnessed a notable surge in preference for China, attributed to the benefits derived from China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and robust trade and investment relations. In Malaysia, for instance, 75.1% of respondents favored China, reflecting the tangible impacts of Chinese investments and infrastructure projects.

Regional Disparities:

While China’s influence grows in some Southeast Asian nations, others, including the Philippines, Vietnam, and Singapore, continue to express a stronger preference for the United States. This disparity is attributed to ongoing territorial disputes in the South China Sea, where these countries contest China’s expansive maritime claims.

Trust in Major Powers:

Interestingly, despite the shifting preferences, Japan emerges as the most trusted major power in Southeast Asia, surpassing confidence levels for the United States, China, India, and the European Union. This sentiment underscores Japan’s reputation for reliability and cooperation in the region.

Geopolitical landscape:

The survey results underscore the dynamic geopolitical landscape in Southeast Asia, with China’s increasing influence reshaping regional alignments. While some countries embrace closer ties with China due to economic incentives, others remain cautious, emphasizing the importance of strategic partnerships and regional stability in navigating complex geopolitical challenges.

Wasim Qadri
Wasim Qadri
Islamabad based Senior Journalist, TV Show Host, Media Trainer, can be follow on twitter @jaranwaliya

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