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Southeast Asia's Preferred Ally Switches in Favor of China

If Southeast Asian countries had to choose a strategic partner, slightly more would now prefer to align with China than the United States. A poll conducted by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies found that 50.5 percent of respondents in the ten ASEAN member countries would choose the Asian power in 2024, while 49.5 percent would pick the United States. This has changed from 38.9 percent and 61.1 percent, respectively, just one year ago.

The change is largely due to respondents from Laos, Indonesia and Malaysia favoring China more strongly at an increase of between 20 to 30 percentage points each since 2023. In Cambodia, support increased by around 18 percentage points, but remained below 50 percent overall. The picture in similar in Thailand and Myanmar at increases of around 10 percentage points each and with support for China in Thailand reaching 52 percent.

Countries that would still strongly prefer to partner with the United States are the Philippines (83.3 percent in favor of the U.S.), Vietnam (79 percent) and Singapore (61.5 percent). In all three countries, support for the U.S. was relatively stable compared to 2023.

Political map of Southeast Asia with arrows shifting towards China, indicating a change in preferred ally from previous alignments
Southeast Asia's Preferred Ally Switches in Favor of China


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