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In the early months of the Donald Trump administration, most Southeast Asian nations have found themselves in a relatively familiar place in dealing with Washington: on the periphery of U.S. policy. The administration has held a friendly call with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and has invited other Southeast Asian leaders to the White House, and Vice President Mike Pence had a short but relatively successful trip to Indonesia earlier this year. But other than the South China Sea—an issue on which Southeast Asian nations themselves are divided about how to respond to Beijing’s increasing dominance—the new U.S. administration has paid only modest attention to Southeast Asia.
For more on my assessment of the new administration’s Southeast Asia policy, see my new article for Aspenia Online.