SeAP aims to make scholarship on Southeast Asia widely available to academic and general audiences. Our faculty and affiliated researchers publish peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, and books, author policy reports, and provide expert opinion and commentaries. Browse our publications below.
In the Spotlight: The Deer and the Dragon
In this forthcoming volume, edited by SeAP Director Donald K. Emmerson, leading experts explore key issues and aspects of Southeast Asia’s interactions with China. Topics covered include regional security, maritime expansion, trade dependence, infrastructure diplomacy, public and elite opinion, and related foreign-policy options and actions in the context of the asymmetry between the ASEAN states and their giant neighbor.
Southeast Asia is arguably the most diverse region in the world. Accordingly, rather than addressing the exact same question, the contributors to this volume have — as experts on Southeast Asia-China relations — explored the matters they see as most important and most deserving of exploration and exposure. After the editor’s introduction, the chapters proceed in pairs. Each pair and a closing chapter cover a distinctive theme in Southeast Asia’s interactions with China.
Supported by Chinese officials and authoritative commentary, President Xi Jinping continued a moderate and cooperative posture toward Southeast Asia in early 2018, reaching a highpoint in Xi’s keynote address on April 10 at the annual Boao Forum for Asia in Hainan Province. Then, the posture switched dramatically to the surprise of many at home and abroad. On April 12, Xi appeared in military uniform addressing troops in the South China Sea participating in the largest naval review in China’s history.
Since the time of Lee Kuan Yew (1923–2015), Singapore’s leaders have refused to infer, merely from the country’s size and composition, a need to appease the People’s Republic of China (PRC). They have remained averse to the notion that little countries should kowtow to big ones, and they firmly reject the idea that their country is somehow racially embedded in a “greater China” whose roads all lead to Beijing.
In October 2017, twenty-two scholars from eight countries attended a workshop titled “ASEAN @ 50, Southeast Asia @ Risk: What should be done?” The workshop was designed to facilitate a frank and creative discussion of policy recommendations, with the intention of providing the resulting proposals to ASEAN member states and other regional powers.
The future of ASEAN is necessarily unknown. Its futures, however, can be guessed with less risk of being wrong. The purpose of this article is not to predict with confidence but to "pandict" with reticence—not to choose one assured future but to scan several that could conceivably occur. Also, what follows is merely a range of possible futures, not the range. The five different ASEANs of the future all too briefly sketched below are meant to be suggestive, but they are neither fully exclusive nor jointly exhaustive. Potentiality outruns imagination.
The future of ASEAN is necessarily unknown. Its futures, however, can be guessed with less risk of being wrong. My purpose here is not to predict with confidence but to “pandict” with reticence—not to choose one assured future but to scan several that could conceivably occur. Also, what follows is merely a range, not the range. The five different ASEANs of the future all too briefly sketched below are meant to be suggestive, but they are neither fully exclusive nor jointly exhaustive. Potentiality outruns imagination.
Admirers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are impressed with the fact that it continues to exist and that an outright war has never broken out between its members. Also often praised is the value to the region of promoting cooperation through the consensual process known as the ‘ASEAN Way’. If ASEAN is a talk shop, these observers say, talking is at least better than fighting.
Scholars at Stanford's Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center in the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies assess the strategic situation in East Asia to be unsettled, unstable, and drifting in ways unfavorable for American interests. These developments are worrisome to countries in the region, most of which want the United States to reduce uncertainty about American intentions by taking early and effective steps to clarify and solidify U.S. engagement. In the absence of such steps, they will seek to reduce uncertainty and protect their own interests in ways that reduce U.S.
China’s building of infrastructure on land features in the South China Sea is a strategy to gain control over the area incrementally, without triggering actual war. That strategy has, so far, succeeded in large part due to Beijing’s effective use of ambiguity and because fears of unwanted escalation have tended to outweigh fears of Chinese expansion. A recent incident in Indonesian waters involving China’s coast guard is unlikely to cause a significant hardening of Jakarta’s posture toward Beijing.
The neighboring north Indian districts of Jaipur and Ajmer are identical in language, geography, and religious and caste demography. But when the famous Babri Mosque in Ayodhya was destroyed in 1992, Jaipur burned while Ajmer remained peaceful; when the state clashed over low-caste affirmative action quotas in 2008, Ajmer's residents rioted while Jaipur's citizens stayed calm. What explains these divergent patterns of ethnic conflict across multiethnic states?
Writing for YaleGlobal Online, Donald Emmerson examines outcomes of the U.S.-Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit that took place at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, California, between Feb. 15-16, 2016. He says that ASEAN, with its timid stance on the South China Sea, risks irrelevance and Chinese dominance in that area.
In a November 2012 issue brief published by the ASAN Institute for Policy Studies, Donald K. Emmerson examines Asia-Pacific organizations working to promote democracy and human rights in Asia.
He concludes with a discussion about what sort of Asian regional organization would be worth innovating to extend or deepen the reach of democracy in Asia.
In this paper published by the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability, Donald Emmerson discusses the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC), saying: "[The] TAC is a relevant model for a comprehensive agreement on peace and security in Northeast Asia, were such an agreement to become feasible."
Available for download from the Nautilus Institute website.
Why do some countries in the developing world achieve growth with equity, while others do not? If democracy is the supposed panacea for the developing world, why have Southeast Asian democracies had such uneven results? In exploring these questions, political scientist Erik Martinez Kuhonta argues that the realization of equitable development hinges heavily on strong institutions, particularly institutionalized political parties and cohesive interventionist states, and on moderate policy and ideology.
The United States belongs to various organizations and networks that encompass countries on both sides of the Pacific Ocean. The East Asia Summit (EAS) is not among them. Should the US try to join? This paper answers that question with a qualified yes: Despite formidable difficulties affecting President Obama’s schedule of foreign travel, his administration should try to “ease” the US into the Summit, initially as a guest of the host country. Eventually, pending a review of the EAS’s prior performance and future prospects, the administration may wish to upgrade that status to membershi