Southeast Asia faces a rising China

Event details

PSC Seminar Series

Date & time

Tuesday 16 March 2021


Virtual event


Sebastian Strangio


Katrin Travouillon

Shortly after acceding to the leadership of the People’s Republic of China in 2012, Xi Jinping promised to lead a “great rejuvenation” of the Chinese nation. In the years since, he has tightened control at home, reasserting the position of the Chinese Communist Party at the commanding heights of the country’s politics and economy, while flexing China’s muscle abroad.

From the Mekong River to the South China Sea, the eleven nations of Southeast Asia stand uniquely exposed to the waxing power and vaunting ambition of the new China. Three share land borders with China, while five are directly impacted by its maritime and territorial claims in the South China Sea. All dwell in the lengthening shadow of its influence: economic, political, military, even cultural.

As rival powers including the United States take increasingly assertive actions to contain Beijing and curb its ambitions, setting off fears of a new Cold War pitting Xi’s authoritarian superpower against the democracies of the West, Southeast Asia has once again emerged as an arena of heated strategic, economic, and ideological competition. Join us for a discussion on the dynamics of China’s expanding influence in Southeast Asia and how the various nations of the region are responding to its rise—an issue with far-reaching implications for the future balance of power in the Indo-Pacific.


Sebastian Strangio is a journalist and author focusing on Southeast Asia, and currently works as Southeast Asia Editor at The Diplomat. In 2008, he began his career as a reporter at The Phnom Penh Post in Cambodia, and has since traveled and reported extensively across Southeast Asia. Sebastian’s writing has appeared in leading publications including Foreign Affairs, the Los Angeles Review of Books, The Atlantic, and The New York Times.

He is the author of Hun Sen’s Cambodia (Yale, 2014), a path-breaking examination of Cambodia since the fall of the Khmer Rouge, and In the Dragon’s Shadow: Southeast Asia in the Chinese Century (Yale, 2020).

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