Southeast Asia


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.

  • Commentary

    With ASEAN Paralyzed, Southeast Asia Seeks New Security Ties

    The Association of Southeast Asian Nations tirelessly proclaims its centrality to the region, but its inability to develop a coherent response to Chinese aggression or the crisis in Myanmar has effectively killed that claim. ASEAN members will inevitably continue to seek out alternative paths.

    Sep 18, 2023

  • Report

    How Would U.S. Allies View Changes in Washington's Relationship with Taiwan?

    The debate in Washington over Taiwan often overlooks a crucial question: How would America's regional allies respond to possible changes in U.S. policy toward the island? Researchers explored the perspectives of Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines.

    Jul 20, 2023

Explore Southeast Asia

  • Origami tank made from Euros, photo by hk_art/Getty Images


    Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Execution in Comparative Organizations: Volume 5, Additional Case Studies of Selected Allied and Partner Nations

    In this report — Volume 5 in a seven-volume set of case studies of planning, programming, budgeting, and execution functions — RAND researchers analyze the defense budgeting processes of France, Germany, Japan, Singapore, and Sweden.

    May 8, 2024

  • Map or Russia and Eurasia, photo by pop_jop/Getty Images


    Samuel Charap Named Inaugural Distinguished Chair in Russia and Eurasia Policy at RAND

    Samuel Charap, a senior political scientist at RAND, will serve as the inaugural Distinguished Chair in Russia and Eurasia Policy at the nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization. The Distinguished Chair in Russia and Eurasia Policy will further enhance RAND's analysis of the region and of the impact of Moscow's actions on the larger geopolitical landscape.

    Apr 11, 2024

  • Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. and U.S. President Joe Biden at the White House in Washington, D.C., May 1, 2023, photo by Leah Millis/Reuters


    The Good and the Bad for Biden in Southeast Asia

    Since entering office in 2021, one of the Biden administration's foreign-policy priorities has been a more effective Indo-Pacific strategy to compete with China, especially in Southeast Asia. Three years on, the administration's policy has bright spots, but still lacks a clear strategy for the region.

    Feb 8, 2024

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping attends a wreath-laying ceremony at the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum during a two day state visit to Hanoi, Vietnam, December 13, 2023, photo by Thinh Nguyen/Reuters


    Vietnam's Show of Welcome for Xi Reflects Growing Self-Confidence

    Chinese leader Xi Jinping's recent visit to Vietnam aimed to reinvigorate bilateral ties, but produced mixed outcomes. Hanoi and Beijing signed a number of substantive bilateral deals, but Vietnam is also strengthening partnerships with other strategically significant nations, complicating any future Chinese aggression.

    Dec 20, 2023

  • Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese, U.S. president Joe Biden, Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida, and Indian prime minister Narendra Modi at the Quad Leaders' Meeting in Tokyo, Japan, May 24, 2022, photo courtesy of the Official Website of the Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet


    America's Indo-Pacific Alliances Are Astonishingly Strong

    As 2023 draws to a close, U.S. alliances and partnerships in the Indo-Pacific are just about the deepest and most robust they have been in all their history. The United States will likely continue to bolster and expand its network to complicate and deter future actions that China and North Korea might take to threaten, undermine, or otherwise undo the Indo-Pacific order.

    Dec 8, 2023

  • A pilot walks toward a lineup of F-16 Fighting Falcons before a flight at Clark Air Base, Philippines. Photo by Airman 1st Class Sebastian Romawac/Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs

    Research Brief

    How Could the United States Gain Greater Access to Asia During a Conflict?

    Ensuring access to the territories of Indo-Pacific allies and partners in the event of a future conflict with China is a critical concern. How are Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia, and India likely to make access decisions? And can the United States influence their decisions?

    Nov 28, 2023

  • Report


    Improving Conflict-Phase Access: Identifying U.S. Policy Levers

    This report explores how U.S. allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific are likely to respond to military access requests in the event of a conflict with China and what policy levers the United States might use in peacetime to affect those responses.

    Nov 28, 2023

  • U.S. Marines run into the ocean during Marine Aviation Support Activity 23 in Palawan, Philippines, July 16, 2023, photo by Lance Cpl. Keegan Jones/U.S. Marine Corps


    China's Gray-Zone Tactics Show the U.S.-Philippine Alliance Is Working

    The United States should continue to offer military assistance and training to the Philippines so that Manila can increasingly counter China on its own while Washington continues to remind and warn Beijing that Article V must not be violated. This is the least risky option that also holds the greatest chance of success.

    Nov 7, 2023

  • General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee Nguyen Phu Trong chairs an official welcome ceremony for U.S. President Joe Biden in Hanoi, Vietnam, September 10, 2023, photo by Nguy?n Quang H?i/VNA/Pool/Latin America News Agency/Reuters


    Can Vietnam Help America Counter China?

    The United States should not count on Vietnam to help counter China. But the fact that Hanoi chose to elevate the U.S.-Vietnam partnership is a strong indication of its growing concerns about Beijing's rising assertiveness. If China becomes more aggressive, it could create new opportunities for Hanoi to strengthen the U.S. relationship.

    Oct 6, 2023

  • India's Defence Minister Rajnath Singh (L) and Vietnam's Defence Minister General Phan Van Giang (R) shake hands during a ceremonial reception in New Delhi, India, June 19, 2023, photo by Kabir Jhangiani via Reuters Connect


    India Is Becoming a Power in Southeast Asia

    The moment has been long in coming, but India is turning into a strategic actor in Southeast Asia. Even though the United States and its Asian treaty allies are not involved, India's moves raise the tantalizing possibility that it will increasingly complement the U.S. Indo-Pacific strategy to counter China in the coming years.

    Jul 10, 2023

  • Report


    U.S. Major Combat Operations in the Indo-Pacific: Partner and Ally Views

    This report, one of two, focuses on whether partners and allies have the willingness to support U.S. operations in a major Indo-Pacific conflict. The companion report focuses on technical and operational issues.

    May 16, 2023

  • U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, meets with Vietnam's Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong in Hanoi, Vietnam, April 15, 2023, photo by Andrew Harnik/Pool via Reuters


    Biden Hopes for Vietnam Breakthrough

    The United States wants to intensify U.S.-Vietnam ties, because the two countries share long-term strategic interests. Vietnam seems perfectly fine with things dragging on for years in their current state, avoiding a final decision, or even getting cold feet in the end. Washington would be wise to manage expectations for now.

    May 12, 2023

  • Report


    The Backbone of U.S. Joint Operations: Army Roles in the Indo-Pacific

    The authors of this report seek to provide an engaging and structured illustrated narrative to more clearly describe the U.S. Army's role throughout the Indo-Pacific region in the present day and into 2035.

    May 5, 2023

  • U.S., Australia and UK flags in front of the USS Asheville , a Los Angeles–class submarine, at HMAS Stirling, Western Australia, March 14, 2023, photo by AAPIMAGE via Reuters Connect


    Why China Should Worry About Asia's Reaction to AUKUS

    If most Indo-Pacific nations support AUKUS—or refuse to condemn it—then Beijing will have more geostrategic and military implications to worry about than AUKUS itself. As long as AUKUS continues to assuage nuclear-proliferation concerns, then the region will view it as a legitimate counter to Chinese military excesses.

    Apr 15, 2023

  • A Chinese warship takes part in a military drill off the Chinese coast near Fuzhou, Fujian Province, across from the Taiwan-controlled Matsu Islands, China, April 11, 2023, photo by Thomas Peter/Reuters


    As China Ascends, Concerns Grow It Might Be Tempted into a 'Splendid Little War'

    When a nation newly ascends or returns to the status of a leading international power, it often feels the need to publicly demonstrate its rise through a brief, victorious war. Today, China's increasing strength may tempt it to pursue such a conflict, and not necessarily with Taiwan, if it anticipates that victory will be swift, decisive, and demonstrative.

    Apr 11, 2023

  • Report


    Proxy Warfare in Strategic Competition: Military Implications

    The authors examine the military implications of intrastate proxy wars (civil wars in which at least one local warring party receives material support from an external state) via a literature review and four case studies.

    Mar 9, 2023

  • U.S. President Joe Biden meets with Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. in New York, New York, September 22, 2022, photo by Leah Millis/Reuters


    The Philippines Is America's New Star Ally in Asia

    The election of the Philippines' new president, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., in May 2022 has proven exceptionally significant for Washington's security alliances in the Indo-Pacific. Marcos has prioritized the maintenance of healthy ties to the United States, marking a sharp departure from the foreign policy of his predecessor.

    Feb 24, 2023

  • Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, participates in a welcome ceremony with his Chinese counterpart Gen. Fang Fenghui at the Ba Yi, Aug. 15, 2017.


    Assessing the Prospects for Great Power Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific

    This report, part of a four-part series, describes the potential for U.S. cooperation with China or Russia in the Indo-Pacific across seven issues, including securing a free and open Indo-Pacific and the denuclearization of North Korea.

    Feb 20, 2023