The rivalry between the United States and China in the Southeast Asia in 2017 and 2018.
The rivalry of great powers between the United States and China embraces all regions of East Asia, including Southeast Asia and the South China Sea. The situation changed and became even more dynamic at the beginning of 2017, with the arrival of Donald Trump, the new American President. Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Trans Pacific Partnership had a significant influence on the situation in Southeast Asia and started a trade war with China as well as a race in the field of new technologies. The Trump Administration also introduced a new strategy of “free and open Indo – Pacific” which shared some basic strategic similarities with its predecessor – the Pivot. Washington has labeled China a strategic rival and a military threat. The American activities are strongly supported by Japan. The Japanese prime minister Shinzō Abe considers supporting Trump’s policy of trade war and general confrontation with China is in Japanese national interest. China was surprised by the evolution of American policy and its reaction was rather defensive. The Chinese president Xi Jinping suspects that the US’s real goal is to prevent China from rising or projecting power and influence abroad, especially in Southeast Asia and South China Sea. However China’s leadership has firmly decided to oppose the American administration policy, particularly in the above mentioned region.
The countries of the region of Southeast Asia started to be severely challenged by China but also by the United States and Japan, especially in the South Chinese Sea. The majority of these countries are likely to continue the “hedge” policy.