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PacNet #19A – China’s Rising Soft Power in Southeast Asia

Political turmoil in Taiwan, following the March 20 presidential election and “defensive referendum,” is causing
some unease in Southeast Asia, as tension increases in cross- Straits relations following the slim margin of victory of incumbent President Chen Shui Bian. In fact, before the election, Taipei was already concerned that it was “losing out” in Southeast Asia to Beijing, especially if ASEAN countries were to choose sides in the unfortunate event of hostilities across the Taiwan Strait. Now with the Taiwan elections over and the situation to be pacified soon, Taipei will have to come to terms with this “loss” and take action to arrest sagging Taiwan-ASEAN relations.