Singapore has played an important role in connecting South Asia with East Asia. It would be fair to say, that in addition to the economic reforms of 1991, and the efforts of successive governments, Singapore deserves credit for helping India strengthen ties with ASEAN.
US Defense Secretary James Mattis visited Indonesia and Vietnam in January 2018. The goal of the US strategy in Asia is to win the “great power competition” against China. However, the Trump administration seems oblivious to the US loss of soft power in the region.
China’s activities in Southeast Asia indicate that the region remains an important one. The leadership of some countries in Southeast Asia are aligned with the Belt and Road Initiative’s vision of infrastructural connectivity.
According to the Thai mass media, the first phase of the Sino-Thai railway connecting Bangkok with Nakhon Ratchasima would begin construction in late 2017. This is Thailand’s first high speed railway line.
Chinese-Filipino relations has reached a new warmth, as China funds Filipino infrastructure-building and its war on drugs while Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte downplays China’s activities on the South China Sea.
US President Donald Trump embarked on his first official trip to Asia in November 2017. The American mainstream or liberal media, almost in unison, put a negative spin on his trip. The Asian media’s account was largely positive and laudatory of the US president.
On November 9, 2017, Chinese President Xi Jinping published an article “For a New Vista in China-Vietnam Friendship” in the official Vietnamese newspaper Nhan Dan, reflecting Beijing’s burgeoning interest to strengthen its ties with Hanoi by mitigating their differences.
US President Donald Trump’s attendance at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Da Nang, as well as a call in Hanoi, along with his appearance at the East Asia Summit in Manila, will show whether the US-Vietnam momentum will continue or slow down.
Recently, the arrest of an opposition leader and the closure of an American-funded democracy institution sparked debate about the future direction of Cambodia’s foreign policy. Will Cambodia be caught in a new Cold War between China and the US?
Political subjectivation is the process during which an individual goes from being an object of politics to a political subject. The network of patronage that connects the political and economic elite of Cambodia with the masses offers examples of how political subjects may be formed.