China, the United States and the Future of Southeast Asia.

AuthorHuang, Chin-Hao

China, the United States and the Future of Southeast Asia. Edited by David B.H. Denoon. New York: New York University Press, 2017. Softcover: 464pp.

David B.H. Denoon's latest edited book brings together a collection of notable experts on Southeast Asian security and international relations. What ties this book together is its thorough coverage on an overarching theme: as Southeast Asia turns into a focal point where tensions between the United States and China are increasing, what kind of influence do Southeast Asian countries wield in the rapidly-changing regional power dynamics?

The different levels of political and economic development, as well as foreign policy priorities, across the ten members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) make it difficult to generalize on a preferred mode of engagement the region pursues in dealing with China and the United States. In the introduction, Denoon acknowledges the "patterns of behavior within ASEAN are quite diverse" (p. 6). Still, one can identify a few emerging trends. For one, geographic proximity makes it a strategic imperative for the region to engage in close business, trade and economic ties with China. Thailand, for instance, is increasingly leaning towards China, in part because of its large ethnic Chinese business elite community that sees the economic benefits of close ties to China. In Chapter Eight, Catharin Dalpino's chapter finds that Laos and Cambodia have also benefited from Chinese largesse in recent years, as seen with the increasing amount of development assistance, preferential loans and investments in large-scale infrastructure projects that range from dams to highways and railroads. Dalpino concludes in her chapter that the military's continuing influence in Myanmar's domestic politics means Sino-Myanmar economic relations remains a key pillar in bilateral ties. Likewise, maritime Southeast Asian states have similar economic prerogatives to engage with China more closely. Vikram Nehru's comprehensive overview captures this narrative in the opening chapter. The higher levels of economic development in Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia continue to thrive and rely on China as an attractive export market.

At the same time, the authors note that while cooperation is deepening on the economic front, confrontation and hedging are more prevalent in China-Southeast Asia security relations. Vietnam, for example, has a complicated security view of China. As...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT