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Japan can help fill a security gap in Southeast Asia

Survey reveals regional concerns about impact of US-China rivalry

| Japan
Few complaints from Southeast Asia when Japan naval ships conducted joint exercises with a U.S. aircraft carrier group in the South China Sea last year.    © Reuters

An African proverb -- "when elephants fight, it is the grass that gets trampled" -- has particular resonance these days in Southeast Asia, where a deepening struggle between two global giants is a serious threat for the region's relatively small states.

A survey by the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore ought therefore to raise alarm bells for regional observers. More than two-thirds of 1,000 respondents from the 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations believe the U.S. and China are on a collision course in the region, according to the survey, the State of Southeast Asia: 2019, published in early February.

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