China Emerges as Top Choice for Southeast Asian Countries Seeking Ally, Surpassing US

By Trisha Andrada

Apr 03, 2024 04:28 AM EDT

The Chinese national flag is seen on a flagpole in Beijing on August 8, 2016.
(Photo : STR/AFP via Getty Images)

Even if certain Southeast Asian nations still favor the United States, a regional study found that most Southeast Asians would side with China rather than America if they had to choose.

This is even though several Southeast Asian countries feel threatened by China's claims in the South China Sea.

Poll: Beijing Has Finally Overtaken Washington

According to CNBC, Beijing has surpassed Washington for the first time since the annual poll began asking the topic in 2020. The US ranking as a favored option fell from 61.1% the previous year to 49.5%.

The survey, which ran from January 3 to February 23, was administered by the ASEAN Studies Centre at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore to 1,994 people from all sectors of society, including education, business, government, civil society, and the media. Members of the ASEAN community, most of whom were from Indonesia and Singapore, filled out the survey.

The study indicates that China has surpassed the US as the most crucial strategic partner for ASEAN, with over 50% of the vote. Japan, however, remains the most trusted big power in the region.

Meanwhile, 45.5% of the respondents were pessimistic about China's intentions. They believed that Beijing may use its economic and military might to undermine their nation's interests and independence.

READ NEXT: China Slams US for Tightening Chip Export Rules

The Philippines and Vietnam Remain on the US Side

Based on the recent happenings in the South China Sea, it is not surprising that survey respondents from the Philippines (83.3%) and Vietnam (79%) are more likely to side with the US than China.

The Philippines and Vietnam, key players in the South China Sea, express grave concerns over China's assertive behavior in the area.

Last month, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. told Bloomberg that China should not be offended by his country's claims to specific areas of the South China Sea.

Similarly, Vietnam has claimed sovereignty over islands in the South China Sea, which Beijing has dismissed.

READ MORE: China's Xi Jinping Meets American CEOs to Woo Back Foreign Investors, Mend Strained Relations With US

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