Southeast Asia

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Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, and Malaysia form the bulk of Southeast Asia, a region that has experienced significant economic development in recent decades but also faces ethnonationalism and security concerns. RAND has investigated these issues as well as the region's relations with the United States, the former Soviet bloc countries, China, and Japan.

  • Flight test of a conventionally configured ground-launched cruise missile at San Nicolas Island, California, August 18, 2019, photo by Scott Howe/U.S. Department of Defense

    Report

    Challenges of Deploying Ground-Based Intermediate-Range Missiles on Allied Lands

    The United States has been hoping to develop and deploy ground-based intermediate-range missiles to the Indo-Pacific. But what is the likelihood of its treaty allies in the region—Australia, Japan, the Philippines, South Korea, and Thailand—hosting these systems? Are there alternatives to permanent basing?

    Apr 28, 2022

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan during a meeting in Moscow, Russia, February 24, 2022, photo  by Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik/Reuters

    Commentary

    Why Most of the Indo-Pacific Tiptoes Around Russia

    Since the start of Russia's increasingly brutal war in Ukraine, the West has ramped up pressure on the rest of the world to condemn Moscow's belligerence and join sanctions against Russia and its regime. In the vast Indo-Pacific region, however, the West's message has fallen flat.

    Apr 7, 2022

Explore Southeast Asia

  • U.S. President Joe Biden talks with Indonesia's President Joko Widodo at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, November 1, 2021, photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    Commentary

    Indonesia Is Looking for More Than Security Support from the United States

    Rather than remain aloof from the new great power competition between the United States and China, Indonesia has quietly, albeit determinedly, favored relations with Washington, though in reality, it does not have much of a choice.

    Sep 14, 2022

  • U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi attends a meeting with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen at the presidential office in Taipei, August 3, 2022, photo courtesy of Taiwan Presidential Office/Handout via Reuters

    Commentary

    The Indo-Pacific Mostly Backs 'One China,' but Taiwan Gets Some Love, Too

    Almost the entire Indo-Pacific region backs China over Taiwan. But U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi's August trip to Taiwan made it clear that key U.S. allies strongly support Taiwan's cause, particularly in the face of a potential war over the island. This suggests that Beijing's assertive behavior is steadily alienating nations that otherwise may have minded their own business.

    Aug 22, 2022

  • Workers make parts for pneumatic guns at one of the eight manufacturers licensed by the Ministry of Public Security in Qingliu county, Fujian province, China, May 26, 2022, photo by Hu Guolin/FeatureChina via AP Images, Workers make parts for pneumatic guns at one of the eight manufa

    Tool

    Where Has China Sent Weapons and Security Contractors?

    China exported weapons to 38 countries from 2018 to 2021. It also exported private security contractors to protect and secure its interests in other countries, such as mining facilities and ports. A map of the exports shows China's expansive influence across Asia and Africa and into Latin America.

    Aug 19, 2022

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Why Vietnam Might Want to Reconsider Its Russia Policy

    Russia's war in Ukraine has put many countries in a tough spot, pitting them between maintaining healthy ties with Moscow and supporting Western punitive measures. One such nation is Vietnam.

    May 12, 2022

  • Bongbong Marcos during a campaign rally in Manila, Philippines, May 7, 2022, photo by Latin America News Agency/Reuters

    Commentary

    New Philippine President Marcos Jr. Likely Won't Repeat Duterte's Foreign Policy Mistakes

    The May 2022 election of Bongbong Marcos as the next president of the Philippines will hold significant implications for Manila's foreign policy. He is likely to be influenced by the policies of both his father, former dictator Ferdinand Marcos, and his predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte, yielding a new government interested in engaging China while keeping the United States close by.

    May 10, 2022

  • Blog

    Russian Mercenaries, Online Extremism, the Commercial Space Market: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on Russia's use of mercenaries, understanding how extremist movements operate online, trends in the commercial space market, and more.

    Apr 15, 2022

  • Officers of the Vietnamese Marine Guard monitor a Chinese coast guard vessel in the South China Sea, about 130 miles offshore of Vietnam, May 15, 2014, photo by Nguyen Minh/Reuters

    Research Brief

    How and Why China Uses Gray Zone Tactics

    China uses a variety of gray zone tactics—coercive actions that are shy of armed conflict but beyond normal diplomatic and economic activities—to advance its objectives, particularly in the Indo-Pacific. Which tactics should the United States prioritize countering?

    Mar 30, 2022

  • Report

    Report

    Competition in the Gray Zone: Countering China's Coercion Against U.S. Allies and Partners in the Indo-Pacific

    This report examines how and why China uses gray zone tactics—coercive activities beyond normal diplomacy and trade but below the use of kinetic military force—against U.S. allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific.

    Mar 30, 2022

  • Soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army Navy patrol at Woody Island, in the Paracel Archipelago, January 29, 2016, photo by China Stringer Network/Reuters

    Commentary

    Taiwan Isn't the Ukraine of the Indo-Pacific. Try Vietnam Instead

    Russia's war in Eastern Europe has prompted Indo-Pacific security watchers to draw comparisons between Ukraine's plight and that of Taiwan with regard to China. But the more-applicable analogy is a different Indo-Pacific country: Vietnam.

    Mar 21, 2022

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Tracking the Relocation of Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh: A Nighttime Lighting Approach

    This report uses nighttime lighting data to track the relocation of Rohingya refugees from the Cox's Bazaar region of Bangladesh to Bhasan Char, a 'floating island' in the Bay of Bengal built to house roughly 100,000 refugees.

    Jan 14, 2022

  • U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman meets with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, June 1, 2021, photo by U.S. Embassy Phnom Penh/Public Domain

    Commentary

    Could the U.S. Play Offense in China's Back Yard?

    Relations with Cambodia and Laos have fallen victim to the U.S. administration's foreign policy priority of shared values over shared interests. This approach has failed to make headway in Cambodia and Laos, isolates the United States in a region where few countries are true democracies, and unnecessarily cedes ground to Beijing.

    Jan 13, 2022

  • U.S. President Joe Biden participates virtually in the annual U.S.-ASEAN Summit at the White House in Washington, D.C., October 26, 2021, photo by Gripas Yuri/ABACA via Reuters Connect

    Commentary

    Biden's Southeast Asia Policy Still Has Much to Prove

    As the Biden administration's first year comes to a close, how is the United States faring in Southeast Asia? Washington got a lot right, but it could do better to optimize competition against China and work on a more sensitive understanding of the delicate and at times precarious position Southeast Asian states are in.

    Dec 17, 2021

  • A woman casts her vote during the by-election in Port Dickson, Malaysia, October 13, 2018, photo by Lai Seng Sin/Reuters

    Report

    Democracy Remains Fragile in the Asia-Pacific

    In Asia, there has been a reduction in the number of autocracies over time but also a rise in the number of partial democracies. What makes some Asian states slide toward authoritarianism? What policies can support democratization, and how can external actors help?

    Dec 6, 2021

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Life in the Slow Lane: Unintended Consequences of Public Transit in Jakarta

    We study how TransJakarta, one of the worlds largest BRT systems, impacted commuting outcomes in Jakarta, Indonesia from 2002 to 2010.

    Nov 9, 2021

  • Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his 6th State of the Nation address at the House of Representative in Manila, Philippines, July 26, 2021, photo by Lisa Marie David/Reuters

    Commentary

    Duterte's Dalliance with China Is Over

    When Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte took office in 2016, he pledged to shift his country's foreign policy away from the United States in favor of China and Russia. His China-friendly policy is now effectively over, and he's doing his best to align the Philippines with the United States once more.

    Nov 2, 2021

  • Naval personnel from China's base in Djibouti, participate in a military parade in Djibouti City

    Report

    China's Military Interventions: Patterns, Drivers, and Signposts

    China has undertaken two broad types of military interventions in its post-1949 history. The authors assess which one of two patterns is likely to predominate in China's future and on what factors the answer to this question is likely to depend.

    Sep 27, 2021

  • Navy Cmdr. Ryan T. Easterday, commanding officer of the guided missile destroyer USS John S. McCain, observes from the bridge wing as the ship sails in the South China Sea, Oct. 20, 2020, photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Markus Castaneda/U.S. Department of Defense

    Commentary

    Reinforcing U.S. Deterrence in the Indo-Pacific After the Fall of Afghanistan

    China and North Korea are seizing on the U.S. departure from Afghanistan to press their own political warfare messages. What can the United States do to mitigate the impact of the Taliban takeover on America's interests in the Indo-Pacific?

    Sep 3, 2021

  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken holds a news conference in New Delhi, India, July 28, 2021, photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    Commentary

    Biden's Indo-Pacific Policy Blueprint Emerges

    The Biden administration has yet to detail its goals in the Indo-Pacific region and how it plans to achieve them. But following recent virtual engagements and U.S. visits to the region, at least three key points have crystallized.

    Aug 23, 2021