Myanmar has emerged as a key issue of regional concern, judging by discussion that followed the publication of the latest State of South-east Asia Survey released by the ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute. This is because of the rifts it exposed within Asean as recently as January, when several foreign ministers did not find it convenient to travel to Cambodia over that country's unilateral approach to the ruling junta, which broke Asean's agreed line. Indeed, it could be said that the region seems to want Asean to take a more interventionist approach to Myanmar, not a placatory one. Other concerns flagged by the survey included current and perennial worries: Covid-19 pandemic, joblessness and recession. Climate change has jumped into third place.
China has established itself as the most influential political and strategic power in South-east Asia, followed by the United States and Asean, going by the survey. It is also perceived as the most influential economic power by a wide margin. However, the US is seen as the country that champions free trade most and which upholds a rules-based order. Tellingly, when it comes to delivering public goods, such as vaccines, although China's contribution is well-recognised, three times as many favoured either Pfizer or Moderna shots over Chinese vaccines.