9 July 2024

Southeast Asia Wants U.S.-China Conflict to Stay Lukewarm

Hunter Marston

There is an increasingly real possibility of a second Trump administration entering office in January 2025. Southeast Asia is better prepared this time around than it was in 2016. Regional leaders are not panicking about the former U.S. leader potentially returning to office.

Most learned to live with President Donald Trump 1.0 despite occasional challenges, particularly the former president’s proclivity for singling out individual countries such as Vietnam for perceived trade imbalances, even as many Vietnamese favored his team’s full-throated condemnation of Chinese actions.

Autocrats appreciated the free pass during the Trump years, a departure from Washington’s usual lectures or sanctions over human rights abuses and democratic erosion. Trump welcomed then-Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha of Thailand to the White House and praised then-President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal handling of the drug war in the Philippines.

No comments: