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Southeast Asia would choose the U.S. over China if forced to pick sides, survey shows

Southeast Asia’s support for the U.S. appeared to increase after Joe Biden won the presidential election, according to an annual survey by Singaporean think tank ISEAS Yusof-Ishak Institute. The State of Southeast Asia survey released last week found that 61.5% of respondents favor aligning with the U.S. over China if the region was forced to pick sides. That’s an increase from 53.6% who chose the U.S. over China in the same survey a year ago.

Responses to the latest survey were gathered from Nov. 18 last year to Jan. 10 this year — after Biden was projected to defeat Donald Trump in the election, but before he was inaugurated as president. The survey involved more than 1,000 respondents from all 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN. The respondents include government officials, business people, as well as analysts from academia, think tanks and research institutions.

omparing country-level data, a majority of respondents from seven Southeast Asian nations chose the U.S. over China in the latest survey. That’s an increase from three in the previous edition, with Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand switching sides.

Around 76.3% of respondents picked China as the most influential economic power, while 49.1% chose China as the most influential political and strategic power. Southeast Asia has been caught in the middle of U.S.-China competition in the last few years.

The region is home to more than 650 million people and some of the world’s fastest-growing economies. Its proximity to the South China Sea — a vital commercial shipping route where trillions of dollars of the world’s trade passes through — adds to its strategic importance.

Southeast Asia would choose the U.S. over China if forced to pick sides, survey shows, CNBC, Feb 16

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