Professor Baviera (foreground, left) with fellow participants held in London School of Economics.

APPFI President and Professor of the UP Asian Center Aileen Baviera was invited to speak in the Southeast Asia panel at “The Challenges of Trump’s America and Xi’s China: perspectives and strategies in Northeast and Southeast Asia”, a forum held on 8 September at the Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre (SEAC), Institute of Global Affairs, London School of Economics.


In her presentation, Baviera said that US President Trump has no comprehensive policy towards Asia… Despite this, there is continuity of US strategic presence in the region and the highly institutionalized bilateral security linkages between US and certain countries provide some assurances of stability. However, in the South China Sea, US Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPS), while welcome, are not adequate nor particularly effective as a deterrent to China. There is a need, she argued, for a more inclusive and robust multilateral diplomatic mechanism to engage China on its growing maritime power projection beyond the ASEAN-China code of conduct negotiations. Southeast Asia does not see itself relying on the US as a sole counterweight to China.

On the other hand, China has a far more comprehensive approach towards Southeast Asia, and appears to be preparing once more for a charm offensive centered on the Belt and Road Initiative, signalling a shift from coercive diplomacy to a combination of hard power, soft power and checkbook diplomacy. While many in Southeast Asia continue to distrust China, especially following its fortification of disputed islands, individual countries pursue different strategies to manage ties with Beijing…. In general... all in Southeast Asia would like to maintain normal relations with China.

ASEAN as a whole cannot be expected to engage in balancing behavior, as its default preference has always been always for a multilateral approach, with emphasis on diplomatic rather than military, inclusive rather than exclusive, rules- or norms-based rather than power-based approaches. But ASEAN has also become more aware of the need to step up and share responsibility for promoting regional order; otherwise, it risks marginalization in its own region. The ADMM Plus and the East Asia Summit will likely remain ASEAN’s major platforms for dealing with Trump’s US and Xi’s China.


According to the forum website, the forum inquires “How much continuity is there between the Obama administration’s ‘rebalance’ to the Asia-Pacific and Washington’s current policy objectives and priorities? In what ways has China’s ‘assertive’ foreign policy toward its periphery given way to a new charm offensive and the lure of economic advantage?”

The forum consisted of two panels. One sought to “explore how the presidential transition in the US has impacted Washington’s alliances with its Northeast Asian partners, examine China’s use of economic statecraft in the pursuit of its main policy objectives in Asia, and assess the implications for the international politics of the region that stem from recent developments in US-Russia ties.

The second panel, in which Professor Baviera spoke, aimed to “examine Southeast Asian ‘hedging’ strategies with an additional focus on Indonesia’s reaction to rising Sino-US tensions, and explore perspectives on the evolving debates in Washington regarding the South China Sea.”

To learn more about the event visit the original post here.

Professor Baviera during the panel-forum held on September 8.


While in London, Professor Baviera took part in a separate workshop (group photo above) on hedging strategies. She was joined by Cheng-chwee Kuik, John Ciorciari, Ann Marie Murphy, Darren Lim, David Martin Jones, Oystein Tunsjo. The workshop was chaired by Jurgen Haacke.