Covid-19 is the biggest challenge facing South-east Asia today, while Asean is slow and ineffective when reacting to political developments. The United States is preferred over China if a choice had to be made between the two as the former, under the new Biden administration, is becoming a more reliable strategic partner. But China, as the region's biggest economic power, has an influence that cannot be overlooked, even if this influence worries many. Once again, Japan, followed by the European Union, are seen as trusted strategic partners in hedging against the US-China rivalry, although the US is winning trust from the region once again.
This is the composite picture we get from the annual State of South-east Asia Survey conducted by ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute. With a sample of over 1,000 respondents from academia, government, media, and finance organisations across the region, this survey tapped the pulse of South-east Asian opinion makers, thought leaders and policymakers to understand their thoughts on key issues that concern the region.