The Politics of (Re)Alignment: The U.S. in Southeast Asian States’ Evolving Strategies in the Trump Era


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When: Sep 15 2017 - 12:00pm until Sep 15 2017 - 1:30pm
Where: 1819 L St NW, Sixth Floor Conference Room, Washington DC, 20036

The Politics of (Re)Alignment: The U.S. in Southeast Asian States’ Evolving Strategies in the Trump Era

An Asia Pacific Foreign Policy and Defense Seminar featuring:

Ithrana Lawrence
Visiting Fellow, East-West Center in Washington


Ithrana Lawrence discussed select Southeast Asian states’ perceptions and policies toward the United States (US) – namely the Philippines, Singapore and Malaysia. AsIthrana Lawrence a direct result of Beijing’s increasing external assertiveness, its rising economic influence, and growing big power rivalries, “the China challenge” has become even more challenging. Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential elections has increased the unpredictability in Washington’s Asia policy, pushing ASEAN states to view with greater doubt the US commitment to Asia and to reassess their strategies toward the big powers.

She focused on the concept of “realignment”, asking whether, to what extent and for what reasons selected ASEAN states have or have not realigned their positions in engaging the competing great powers. While much commentary has reasoned Southeast Asian states’ engagement and alignment strategies as a response to China’s rise and its growing roles, Lawrence found that the China factor is a key driver but not the only explanatory variable. Three other factors are relevant: the internal attributes of US policymaking processes, individual Southeast Asian states’ domestic conditions, as well as governing elites’ political needs. Ms. Lawrence discussed the “realignment” concept using the case studies of the Philippines, Singapore and Malaysia.

 For more images, please visit the album for this event on the East-West Center's Flickr page. 

Ithrana Lawrence is Researcher with the East Asian International Relations (EAIR) Caucus at the National University of Malaysia. Her research interests are in Southeast Asian international relations and small-state external strategies. Ithrana’s past works include the Singapore-Brunei special relationship, Malaysia and the Philippines’ recent recalibration in their relations with big powers and related subjects. She has been a Visiting Fellow at the East-West Center in Washington DC.

Primary Contact Info:
Name: Sarah Wang
Phone: 2023279755