China has been scrambling to shore up relations with its Southeast Asian neighbours in recent weeks, with pledges of broad Covid-19 recovery aid and economic cooperation specifically targeted at Washington-friendly countries in a bid to prevent them jumping on the US bandwagon. As the across-the-board rivalry between the China and the US accelerates towards a fully-fledged confrontation, Beijing is ramping up the pressure on neighbouring countries to pre-empt the emergence of a hostile coalition near its doorstep.
As a result, these countries and other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are increasingly torn between Beijing and Washington, with their long-tested balancing strategy under its biggest stress test amid the growing risks of an outright confrontation.
“It’s true that, going forward, the ASEAN countries will find themselves in an increasingly precarious – and awkward perhaps – position that may compel them to choose sides,” said Collin Koh, a Research Fellow from the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.
Last updated on 30/07/2020