U.S.-China Competition in the Indo-Pacific
Nov 12, 2020
In this country-level report in a series, the authors assess the impact of the changes in China's strategic behavior and U.S.-China relations over the past decade on Singapore in terms of its security policies and relationships in the Indo-Pacific region. The project also examines how the United States can improve its ability to work with allies and partners to maintain its advantage in long-term competition with China.
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This report on Singapore is part of a project examining the perspectives of U.S. allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific as they formulate and implement their responses to China's more assertive foreign and security policy behavior in the region and to a more competitive U.S.-China relationship. Singapore views its relations and partnership with the United States as essential to its security policy. It sees the U.S. regional presence as playing an indispensable role in ensuring its ability to navigate a regional security environment that is increasingly complicated by China's growing influence and more-assertive Chinese behavior. At the same time, China is Singapore's most important trading partner, and Singapore aims to maintain a stable relationship with China even as it resists Chinese influence and interference.
The U.S.-Singapore relationship is a success story: Singapore has been and remains a strategic partner for U.S. diplomacy and security efforts in Southeast Asia and the Indo-Pacific region more broadly. To sustain this success in ways that will buttress U.S. competitive advantage will require a steady hand at the helm of the relationship, strengthening ties across economic and security domains while recognizing the importance to Singapore of stable relations with and growing economic ties to China. Singapore's geographic location astride the Straits of Malacca, its outsize influence in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and the military support afforded the United States by infrastructure and access in Singapore make investments in U.S. attention and treasure both necessary and worthwhile.
Singapore in the Context of U.S.-China Competition
Singapore's Diplomacy: Maintaining a Delicate Balance
China's Economic Importance to Singapore
Singapore Defense Relations: Heavily Favoring United States but Not Snubbing China
Outlook and Options
Detailed Framework Variable Coding
The research reported here was sponsored by Brig Gen Michael P. Winkler (PACAF/A5/8) and conducted within the Strategy and Doctrine Program of RAND Project AIR FORCE.
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