Southeast Asia

Featured

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.

  • China with sunset on Earth

    Report

    China's Engagement with the Developing World

    Oct 16, 2018

    Engaging with developing countries offers China economic growth and global influence. What are the consequences of Beijing's strategy toward the developing world for the United States?

  • The Eiffel tower is illuminated in green with the words "Paris Agreement Is Done" to celebrate the Paris U.N. COP21 Climate Change agreement in Paris, France, November 4, 2016

    Report

    U.S. Policy in Asia Under the Trump Administration

    Apr 18, 2018

    A conference on U.S. policy in Asia explored the arenas of U.S.-Asia engagement, developed an understanding of the outcomes of past interaction, and made the case for the terms of future engagement. Topics included climate change, trade and investment, national security, human rights, and macroeconomic issues.

Explore Southeast Asia

  • Commercial Book

    Institution Building in Weak States: The Primacy of Local Politics

    The international community‘s approach to building state institutions needs its own reform. This innovative book proposes a new strategy, rooted in a rigorous analysis of recent missions.

    Jun 26, 2020

  • Philippines President Rodrigo Roa Duterte updates the nation on the government's efforts in addressing COVID-19 at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on May 11, 2020, photo by Ace Morandante/Philippines Office of the President

    Commentary

    China Just Botched a Monumental Opportunity with the Philippines

    China hailed Philippines President Duterte's announcement in February of an end to the U.S.-Philippines Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) in six months as evidence the United States was losing the great power competition with China in the Indo-Pacific. But on June 2, Duterte decided to postpone the VFA termination, breathing new life into the decades-long agreement.

    Jun 18, 2020

  • A Yakovlev Yak-130 combat trainer aircraft performs during the International Army Games 2016, in Dubrovichi outside Ryazan, Russia, August 5, 2016, photo by Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

    Commentary

    Spending Smart or Spending Big: The Value of Systematic Assessments of Weapons Procurement

    Considering the COVID-19 pandemic and inevitable economic difficulties, national governments should be encouraged to weigh their military requirements in a more cost-effective manner. Countries need to think strategically about the life cycle costs of equipment, not just the original purchase price.

    Jun 8, 2020

  • Mi-17 helicopters fly in formation during military exercises at the firing ground Koktal in Almaty Region, Kazakhstan, May 3, 2019, photo by Pavel Mikheyev/Reuters

    Commentary

    Are Military Purchases in SE Asia for Political Balancing a Good Use of National Defense Resources?

    The Philippines has embarked upon a multi-phase, multi-year modernization of its armed forces, but some of the acquisition decisions appear to be driven by political symbolism rather than responsible military decisions. Using military procurement for political symbolism and paying a high price for it takes resources away from other pressing national security and domestic needs.

    May 7, 2020

  • Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (L) and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang meet in Beijing, China, August 30, 2019, photo by How Hwee Young/Pool/Reuters

    Commentary

    There's Still Life in the U.S.-Philippines Visiting Forces Agreement

    Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced that he would terminate the U.S.-Philippines Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). Washington and Manila have until August 9 to save it or negotiate a new VFA to avert any further alliance crisis.

    May 4, 2020

  • A view shows JDC Hakuryu-5 deep water drilling platform in the South China Sea off the coast of Vung Tau, Vietnam, April 29, 2018, photo by Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

    Commentary

    Reviewing Vietnam's 'Struggle' Options in the South China Sea

    Once again, Chinese assertiveness against Vietnam in the South China Sea is on the rise. Vietnam has publicly protested each Chinese move, but these statements have yet to alter Beijing's bad behavior. Among its many options, Hanoi could look to Washington for further assistance.

    May 4, 2020

  • Report

    U.S.–Japan Alliance Conference: Regional Perspectives on the Quadrilateral Dialogue and the Free and Open Indo-Pacific

    These proceedings capture assessments by regional experts presented at a March 2019 conference on the topic of the "free and open Indo-Pacific" and the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue as seen by India, Australia, and Indonesia.

    Apr 13, 2020

  • Naval ships from India, Australia, Japan, Singapore, and the United States steam in formation in the Bay of Bengal during Exercise Malabar, September 5, 2007, photo by MCSN Stephen Rowe/U.S. Navy

    Commentary

    'Quad Plus' Meetings Won't Cover China

    The “Quad” countries met with several non-Quad countries to help each other amid the coronavirus pandemic. For all the good that can come of these countries working together, the Quad Plus, if sustained, may eventually jeopardize the Quad's primary mission: to counter China's assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific.

    Apr 9, 2020

  • A Chinese flag flutters on a fishing boat while a China Coast Guard patrols at the disputed Scarborough Shoal April 5, 2017, photo by Erik de Castro/Reuters

    Commentary

    A Short History of China's Fishing Militia and What It May Tell Us

    China's armed fishing militia plays an instrumental role in Beijing's strategy to enforce its sovereignty claims in the South China Sea and East China Sea. Why did Beijing create a maritime militia to begin with and how has it evolved over time? What does this history suggest about its future?

    Apr 6, 2020

  • The USS Bunker Hill, part of the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group, arrives in Da Nang, Vietnam, March 5, 2020, photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nicholas Huynh/U.S. Navy

    Commentary

    China Remains Unfazed by Warming U.S.-Vietnam Security Ties

    In early March, the United States sent an aircraft carrier to Da Nang, Vietnam, in a display of goodwill and deepening security ties between the former adversaries. China is well aware of U.S.-Vietnam moves, and yet its public reaction to the USS Theodore Roosevelt can be summed up in one word: unfazed.

    Mar 19, 2020

  • U.S. President Donald Trump holds a bilateral meeting with President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte alongside the ASEAN Summit in Manila, Philippines, November 13, 2017, photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    Commentary

    If U.S. Forces Have to Leave the Philippines, Then What?

    If the United States were to lose access to bases in the Philippines, the effects would ripple outward. Maintaining alliances in the Indo-Pacific in all their manifestations is critical—and the details matter.

    Feb 28, 2020

  • Report

    Online Outsourcing: Prospects for Increasing Youth Employment and Reducing Poverty in Indonesia

    In this Perspective, the authors review the potential benefits and drawbacks of online outsourcing, including microwork and freelancing, with special reference to its potential for youth employment and poverty reduction in Indonesia.

    Feb 5, 2020

  • China Coast Guard ship seen from an Indonesian Naval ship during a patrol at Indonesia’s Exclusive Economic Zone sea north of the Natuna Islands, Indonesia, January 11, 2020, photo by M Risyal Hidayat/Antara Foto Agency/Reuters

    Commentary

    Why Is China Pressing Indonesia Again Over Its Maritime Claims?

    China sparked a major maritime confrontation with Indonesia near the South China Sea in December when dozens of Chinese fishing vessels, along with a coast guard escort, entered waters off the Natuna Islands. What drove Beijing to stake out its sovereignty claims against Indonesia at this particular time? And what can Indonesia and other regional neighbors expect of Chinese behavior going forward?

    Jan 16, 2020

  • A Vietnamese soldier keeps watch in front of U.S. aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson after its arrival at a port in Danang, Vietnam, March 5, 2018, photo by Nguyen Huy Kham/Reuters

    Commentary

    How to Read Vietnam’s Latest Defense White Paper: A Message to Great Powers

    Vietnam's latest defense white paper is full of warnings to China and opportunities for the United States. Washington needs to reassure Vietnam that the United States is committed to the relationship by deepening existing military exchanges, which will give Vietnam greater confidence to stand up to China when the time comes.

    Dec 31, 2019

  • Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen attends a campaign rally ahead of the presidential election in Taipei, Taiwan, December 21, 2019, photo by Tyrone Siu/Reuters

    Commentary

    What Taiwan and Vietnam Could Tell Us in 2020

    While many issues warrant attention in 2020, two that should be near the top of Asia-watchers' lists are Taiwan and Vietnam. Both are on the front lines of Chinese coercion, and their ability to respond, either with or without American support, will set the tone in the Indo-Pacific well beyond 2020.

    Dec 30, 2019

  • Image by Alyson Youngblood/RAND Corporation

    Blog

    Most Popular RAND Blog Commentary of 2019

    Terrorism. The humanitarian crisis at the border. How to engage friends and foes on the world stage. Here are the top 10 commentaries that readers engaged with most on The RAND Blog in 2019.

    Dec 23, 2019

  • Blog

    Medicare, Climate Change, 'Superbugs': RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on opening Medicare to Americans at age 50, how to assess climate change plans, antibiotic-resistant "superbugs," and more.

    Nov 22, 2019

  • A Chinese Coast Guard ship from the bow of a Vietnam Marine Guard ship in the South China Sea, near Vietnam, May 14, 2014, photo by Nguyen Minh/Reuters

    Commentary

    Vietnam Needs to 'Struggle' More in the South China Sea

    With the standoff between China and Vietnam at the disputed Vanguard Bank ended, it makes sense to take stock of how Hanoi's security strategy fared in countering Chinese coercion. It may be time for Vietnam to consider a careful recalibration to allow for more “struggle” and less “cooperation.”

    Nov 15, 2019

  • A woman walks along a road covered in smog due to a forest fire in Banjarbaru, South Kalimantan province, Indonesia, September 6, 2019, photo by Antara Foto Agency/Reuters

    Commentary

    Uncovering the Links Between Fires and Public Health in Equatorial Asia

    Fires in Indonesia, if left unchecked, could cause an average of 36,000 premature deaths annually across Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. Researchers built a tool that models the effect of the fires on public health.

    Oct 25, 2019

  • Journal Article

    Financial Knowledge and Portfolio Complexity in Singapore

    This paper reports the first analysis of older Singaporeans' financial literacy using a unique new dataset, the Singapore Life Panel (SLP®).

    Sep 20, 2019