“The #1 consideration is how to respond to China and how close to the United States,” said Oriana Skyler Mastro, a fellow at Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies who focuses on Chinese security policy. “They don’t want to lean too forward and find themselves walking too far forward.”
Indonesia, which is expected to have the world’s fourth largest economy by 2030, is a country that could play a bigger role in shaping regional relations, but it has not yet shown much interest in getting out of its unaligned position. to step.
Vietnam is a persistent conundrum for Americans: U.S. officials understand its long history of hostility to China, exacerbated by ongoing territorial disputes in the South China Sea, so it could be a natural partner. But the ruling Communist Party maintains close ties with its Beijing counterpart, and some US officials say they realize Vietnamese leaders want to step over the fence with both superpowers.
Cambodia presents another dilemma. China’s economic influence is felt across the country, and Cambodia’s leaders recently agreed to have China expand and upgrade a naval base, alarming Washington.