Southeast Asian diplomacy: consistency is not always a virtue (AIIA)

As a contiguous big country, China is always going to enjoy significant influence in Southeast Asia. But for precisely the same reasons, China is also always going to evoke anxieties. Countries on China’s periphery will therefore not allow themselves to be hemmed into an exclusive relationship no matter how dependent they are on China. Having lived in the midst of great power competition for centuries, the strategic instinct of Southeast Asia is not to align with any major power across all domains.

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