Prospects for Regional Hegemony in Southeast Asia

Statement Presented to the Subcommittee on Future Foreign Policy Research and Development of the House International Relations

by Guy J. Pauker

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Indonesia has been viewed as a potential regional power due to strategic location, large population and GNP. However, it is still in an early stage of economic development. Its oil resources are modest, and literacy of the population is low. There are no indications that Indonesia plans to acquire modern weapons, or transform ASEAN into a military alliance. Vietnam is more likely as the regional power in Southeast Asia. Its strength and cohesion are demonstrated by the speed of reunification. Its military forces are largest and strongest in the region. Ideologically the present regimes in Vietnam and Indonesia are adversaries and they may have antagonistic interests in Thailand and Malaysia. If they devote their resources to development, there need not be confrontation. In the distant future, it is conceivable that Vietnam could become the protector of Southeast Asia against China, while Indonesia secured the region from unwanted interference of global maritime powers.

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