21 June 2021

In China’s Shadow: China and Southeast Asia

Does Southeast Asia face a stark choice between aligning with China or the United States? Can we understand domestic developments in the region as driven by wider geopolitics? Can the lacklustre regional organization ASEAN play a central role in mediating these dynamics, or are individual Southeast Asian countries locked into deeply unequal bilateral linkages? Is China a largely benevolent force in the region, or an untrustworthy would-be hegemon?

In this session, we meet the authors of two recent books on interactions between China and Southeast Asia: Sebastian Strangio and Murray Hiebert. Both authors are veteran foreign correspondents who lived in Southeast Asia for many years.

Sebastian Strangio’s book In the Dragon’s Shadow (Yale 2020; interviewed on the NBN here) and Murray Hiebert’s Under Beijing’s Shadow (Rowman and Littlefield 2020) address closely related topics: how does Southeast Asia navigate relations with a much larger neighbour that has become increasingly powerful in recent decades, economically, politically and indeed militarily? Both books discuss regional relationships as well as bilateral ties between China and individual Southeast Asian nations.

Wasana Wongsuwarat (Associate Professor of History, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand) and Petra Desatova (NIAS postdoctoral researcher) discuss the two books with their respective authors, in a conversation moderated by Duncan McCargo, Director of NIAS.

This podcast is taken from a session at the Fourteen Annual Nordic NIAS Council Conference ‘China’s Rise/Asia’s Responses’ (https://www2.helsinki.fi/en/conferences/chinas-riseasias-responses) held on 10-11 June 2021 in collaboration with the Nordic Association for China Studies and the University of Helsinki.