Power Play

America needs to relook its toolkit for South-east Asia

Less emphasis on China rivalry may ironically yield better results. A more productive approach also lies in greater use of diplomatic and economic tools, a dexterous mix of specific regional partners and narrower goals.

How to better engage with South-east Asia is a question that the White House Asia team is very focused on trying to figure out.PHOTO: AFP

Power Play is a weekly column that looks at various facets of US-China rivalry and its implications for Asia.

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin will bring a message for the region when he visits the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam this week: The United States is a reliable partner, "a friend who shows up when it counts" - as Mr Austin put it to reporters last Wednesday.

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