Center for American Progress

RELEASE: CAP and CICIR Release Report Identifying Ways that the United States and China Can Work Together in Southeast Asia
Press Release

RELEASE: CAP and CICIR Release Report Identifying Ways that the United States and China Can Work Together in Southeast Asia

Washington, D.C. — For nearly two years, the Center for American Progress and the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, or CICIR, have engaged in a partnership to examine the evolving relationship between the United States and China. As part of this effort, the two organizations jointly conducted field research across six nations in Southeast Asia to identify underexplored opportunities for U.S.-China collaboration in the region.

Today, the two organizations have released a joint report detailing the findings of that effort. After conversations with officials and nongovernment experts in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Singapore, CAP and CICIR identified nine key findings and related recommendations. The report was released today at an event hosted by CAP.

Among the findings are that Southeast Asian countries welcome U.S.-China cooperation, especially when the alternative is a rivalry between the two nations; that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, expects to remain in the driver’s seat when the United States and China collaborate in the region; and that it would be important for both the United States and China to recall that there are other outside powers that are important to the region, especially Japan.

“China and the United States are the centers of gravity around which the global economy and global security orbit,” said Melanie Hart, CAP Senior Fellow and Director of China Policy. “Their influence within the Southeast Asian region is considerable, so it was important for both CAP and CICIR to understand how nations within that region viewed the U.S.-China relationship and to identify routes of cooperation that may have been overlooked until now. What we found was a concerted desire for the United States and China to cooperate closely with each other as well as with the ASEAN nations, despite the unfortunate reality that the two giants are often at odds with each other.”

Brian Harding, CAP Director for East and Southeast Asia, added, “At the end of the day, the United States and China have many shared interests in Southeast Asia, the region has a litany of challenges, and it would be foolish not to pursue initiatives that serve everyone’s interests.”

The report offers seven areas of cooperation for the United States and China to explore:

  • Expand U.S.-China ocean cooperation to include coastal nations and coastal cities in Southeast Asia.
  • Expand U.S.-China energy and climate cooperation to include Southeast Asian nations.
  • Support sustainable infrastructure development in Southeast Asian nations.
  • Expand bilateral people-to-people cooperation to be trilateral.
  • Deepen U.S.-China cooperation on Southeast Asia connectivity and consider embarking on a landmark infrastructure project.
  • Develop a trilateral Track 2 process and leverage trilateral cooperation within existing official ASEAN institutions at the Track 1 level.
  • The United States and China should find specific initiatives to cooperate on within the ASEAN institutions.

Click here to read the report.
Click here to live-stream the event.

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Tom Caiazza at[email protected] or 202.481.7141.

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