DECEMBER 9, 2022
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Survey Reveals Growing Preference for China over US in Southeast Asia

Survey Reveals Growing Preference for China over US in Southeast Asia

A recent survey conducted by the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Southeast Asia has uncovered a significant shift in regional sentiment, with over half of respondents indicating a preference to align with China rather than the US if forced to choose sides.

The State of Southeast Asia 2024 survey, comprising 1,994 respondents from various sectors, found that 50.5% favored China while 49.5% leaned towards the US. This marks the first time China has surpassed the US since the survey began in 2020, signaling Beijing's increasing influence in the region.

Countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, and Laos showed the strongest alignment with China, likely influenced by benefits from China's Belt and Road initiative and robust trade relations. Despite this preference, concerns about China's intentions were evident, with 45.5% expressing fear over Beijing's economic and military power.

Notably, Vietnam and the Philippines maintained support for the US, highlighting the complex dynamics within the region amidst the US-China rivalry.

The survey also underscored Southeast Asians' reluctance to take sides, with only 8% advocating for ASEAN alignment and instead emphasizing the need for unity and resilience to navigate geopolitical pressures.

Economic concerns remained paramount for respondents, with unemployment, recession fears, and climate change ranking as top worries. Additionally, Israel's war in Gaza emerged as a significant geopolitical concern, particularly among Muslim-majority nations in the region.

Overall, the survey reflects the nuanced geopolitical landscape in Southeast Asia, characterized by shifting alliances and a focus on economic stability amidst global tensions.

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