April 4, 2023
Brian Harding, director, East and Southeast Asia, Center for American Progress.

Washington, D.C. (March 28, 2017) — Over the past decade, Southeast Asia’s economic and geopolitical profile in the world has risen dramatically. Governments and multinational companies across the world are ramping up engagement with the region—most notably, the United States, China, and Japan. While Southeast Asian countries welcome this attention and—sometimes—competition among the three countries, it is clear that all parties are missing opportunities to cooperate to address common challenges.

The Center for American Progress has released a report outlining the findings of a recent trilateral dialogue organized by CAP that describes the current state of engagement of each major power in Southeast Asia and presents four areas for potential U.S.-Japan-China collaboration.

“While the dialogue was candid and thoughtful, which was notable, the current political atmosphere makes truly frank engagement between the three governments difficult,” said Brian Harding, CAP director for East and Southeast Asia. “However, it is clearly in the best interest of all three major powers and the countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, to make cooperation a priority or at least seek to coordinate on matters where policy interests align. We need more dialogue of this kind to produce useful outcomes for all in the region.”

In partnership with the Sasakawa Peace Foundation and the China Institutes for Contemporary International Relations, or CICIR, CAP convened an off-the-record trilateral dialogue of Southeast Asia experts late last year. The effort followed an intensive project by CAP and CICIR on U.S.-China relations in Southeast Asia. Participants engaged in dialogue on political and economic developments in the region, as well as national interests and assumptions about the interests of other countries. All the while, participants sought to look past competitive elements and identify intersections in national interests and opportunities for partnership and coordination.

Click here to read the report.

The Center for American Progress is a nonpartisan research and educational institute dedicated to promoting a strong, just and free America that ensures opportunity for all. We believe that Americans are bound together by a common commitment to these values and we aspire to ensure that our national policies reflect these values. We work to find progressive and pragmatic solutions to significant domestic and international problems and develop policy proposals that foster a government that is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

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