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PacNet #30 – Southeast Asian Perceptions of Major Power Relations in Northeast Asia

There are perhaps as many Southeast Asian perceptions of the behavior of the U.S., PRC, and Japan in Northeast Asian affairs as there are countries in Southeast Asia, if not more. However, in the search for a lasting and peaceful order in East Asia, states of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) have individually, or as a group, adopted what I would call a strategy of hedging. While heavily promoting trade and investment and otherwise helping China integrate into the international trading system, several ASEAN states have also offered base facilities and logistic support to American forces, as well as encouraged Japan to complement its economic weight in Southeast Asia by playing a more active role in United Nations peacekeeping or regional attempts to fight piracy, smuggling, or wanton destruction of the environment. This is to ensure that no one major power can, in the future, dominate East Asia in a way that is averse to the interests of ASEAN.