Cover: The Role of Southeast Asia in U.S. Strategy Toward China

The Role of Southeast Asia in U.S. Strategy Toward China

Published 2001

by Richard Sokolsky, Angel Rabasa, C. Richard Neu

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China’s geopolitical ambitions and growing military capabilities and theSoutheast Asian states’ perceptions of a rising China will play a crucial role in shaping the future of Southeast Asia and the U.S. military posture in the region. The authors examine the role of regional states in developing a hedge against the possible emergence of an overly aggressive China. They find that rather than confronting a conventional attack, theUnited States and the Southeast Asian countries are likely to find a continuation of China’s creeping irredentism and ambiguous threats. Southeast Asia is likely to prove a critical testing ground for a third way of dealing with China’s rising power — what in other RAND work has been called a policy of congagement — that seeks to integrate China into theinternational system while both deterring and preparing for a possible Chinese challenge. The report recommends that the United States adopt an incremental approach to this hedging strategy, focusing on peacetime military engagement with Southeast Asian states, development of a more robust and diversified network of access arrangements, and strengthened military ties with the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia,and Vietnam.

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