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.

  • 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

  • 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

  • Forest fire, several hectares of pine trees burned during the dry season in June 2013 in Tele-Samosir Lake Toba (Danau Toba) North Sumatra (Sumatera Utara) Indonesia, photo by Ares/Adobe Stock

    Report

    Indonesian Fires and Haze

    Fires in Indonesia contribute to severe air pollution that causes public health, environmental, and economic degradation across Indonesia and across equatorial Asia. What are the drivers of fire activity in Indonesia? And what are some the health impacts of air pollution exposure?

    Jul 20, 2021

  • Marines with Marine Corps Forces Cyberspace Command pose for photos in the cyber operations center at Lasswell Hall

    Report

    Chinese Disinformation Efforts on Social Media

    The authors identify key Chinese practices and the supporting infrastructure and conditions that successful social media disinformation campaigns require, concluding that China is using Taiwan as a test bed for developing attack vectors.

    Jul 19, 2021

  • Report

    Report

    Rapid Analysis of Foreign Malign Information on COVID-19 in the Indo-Pacific: A Proof-of-Concept Study

    The authors explore whether news and blog data could provide some initial insights on the reach of, content of, and tactical strategies used in foreign malign information about COVID-19 in the Indo-Pacific.

    Jul 7, 2021

  • Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman meets with Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha at Government House in Bangkok, Thailand, June 2, 2021, photo by U.S. Embassy Bangkok

    Commentary

    Biden's Troubled Southeast Asia Policy Needs a Reboot

    Nearly six months into Joe Biden's presidency, it is now possible to begin assessing the effectiveness of some of his administration's policies. When it comes to Southeast Asia, the Biden administration has thus far fallen short, but the future looks relatively bright with certain caveats.

    Jul 6, 2021

  • Earth partially covered by Chinese Yuan, image by Stephen Finn/Adobe Stock

    Report

    China's Drive for Power and Influence Around the World

    An analysis of China's ability to use various mechanisms of influence to shape the policies and behavior of 20 countries finds that China's economic power is the foundation for its influence. This analysis offers lessons for the United States that can inform its response.

    Jun 30, 2021

  • Indonesia's President Joko Widodo speaks to China's President Xi Jinping at the G-20 summit, in Osaka, Japan, June 28, 2019, photo by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Pool via Reuters

    Commentary

    Indonesia Is Quietly Warming Up to China

    Improving China-Indonesia relations could have profound geostrategic significance for the United States. Washington may want to focus on assistance that would benefit Indonesia itself, not just the United States in its competition with China.

    Jun 7, 2021

  • RAND Weekly Recap

    Blog

    Pandemic Education, Working Mothers, Predicting Cyber Threats: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on the urban-rural divide in pandemic education, supporting working moms, what makes a good COVID-19 reopening plan, and more.

    May 14, 2021

  • President Rodrigo Duterte speaks at Davao International airport in Davao City in southern Philippines, September 8, 2018, photo by Lean Daval Jr./Reuters

    Commentary

    China Has Lost the Philippines Despite Duterte's Best Efforts

    Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has time and again underscored his anti-U.S. and pro-Chinese orientation. Duterte now recognizes, in spite of his continued rhetoric to the contrary, that China is no friend.

    May 6, 2021

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Tracking Chinese Perceptions of Vietnam's Relations with China and the United States

    This article sheds light on trends in Chinese assessments of U.S.-Vietnam relations and security cooperation to discern patterns in the security dynamics between the three countries.

    May 4, 2021

  • U.S. President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken meet virtually with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, and Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia at the White House in Washington, D.C., March 12, 2021, photo by Pool/ABACA via Reuters

    Commentary

    Biden Should Consider Downsides of Stressing National Values in Indo-Pacific

    The Biden administration has argued that the United States must strengthen its Indo-Pacific alliances and partnerships to compete more successfully with China. Will Washington prioritize national interests or national values?

    May 3, 2021