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Can the United States Keep China at Bay?

Southeast Asians want the United States active and engaged in the region, and the U.S. is clearly trying to deliver. But Southeast Asian countries cannot hope to receive full U.S. support in the South China Sea until they resolve ongoing disputes among themselves.

This burst of U.S. activity in Southeast Asia is, in part, a response to China’s recent assertiveness, particularly in the maritime space (more on that here). Southeast Asians hope drawing the United States more deeply into the region can help balance China’s heft in multilateral organizations and deter China from using force to resolve territorial disputes, even as Southeast Asians beef up their own defense capabilities.

Map of the South China Sea (1988). (Source: University of Texas Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection)

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U.S. Policy »

Negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership: Are We Getting Serious?

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk announced this week that the United States will negotiate to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which currently includes New Zealand, Chile, Brunei, and Singapore. As more countries join–Australia, Peru, and Vietnam will negotiate to join with us–this could be the start of a more robust U.S. trade agenda in Asia. Kirk even said Japan, Malaysia, and South Korea should join an agreement, too.

But is the United States really ready for an agreement like this? And is the Obama administration really serious about moving forward on trade? Read More »