Facilitated by under-the-radar low-tech boats, collusion with local corrupt officials, and integration with legal trade and activities, piracy in Southeast Asia remains a challenging problem. Multinational agencies are cooperating to counteract.
Two recent publications by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative of the Center for International and Security Studies condemn China’s policies and actions in the South China Sea while ignoring the similar transgressions of the others there.
While the maritime states of Southeast Asia are not in Cambodia’s immediate neighborhood, they are important for the study of Cambodia’s foreign relations. The pre-colonial kingdoms of today’s Cambodia and maritime Southeast Asia had significant dealings with one another.
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.