Prof. Tan will assess how Southeast Asian countries and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have responded to the various Indo-Pacific strategies promoted by the US and the other “Quad” countries (Australia, India, and Japan). The Southeast Asians’ nuanced ripostes imply a persistent commitment to limited and contingent alignments in the face of growing great-power rivalry and the lack of a clear Indo-Pacific vision among the Quad states. This hedging strategy is likely to continue in the face of American and Chinese pressure to take sides, as the ASEAN states cooperate selectively with Washington and Beijing. Given the US’s desire to balance China and Trump’s disregard for multilateralism, ASEAN’s ability to maintain its centrality in the evolving regional architecture is in doubt. The success of Washington’s strategy depends on its ability to build and sustain a requisite coalition to balance Beijing. Also at stake is the ability of ASEAN to redefine its regional centrality in an era of great-power discord that is undermining multilateralism in Asia.
See Seng Tan, in addition to his NTU professorship, is President/CEO-elect of International Students Inc. (ISI), a nonprofit based in Colorado Springs, CO. His latest book is The Legal Authority of ASEAN as a Security Institution (2019). Forthcoming work includes another book, The Responsibility to Provide in Southeast Asia: Towards an Ethical Explanation, and a chapter on Singapore-China relations in The Deer and the Dragon: Southeast Asia and China in the 21st Century. His degrees are from Arizona State University (PhD) and the University of Manitoba (MA and BA with Honors).