The US Rebalance in Southeast Asia: Maritime Security, Nontraditional Security Threats, and “Bamboo Diplomacy”

  • Eric Frécon
  • Hugo Meijer
Part of the The Sciences Po Series in International Relations and Political Economy book series (SPIRP)


Even if “Southeast Asia” (SEA) is a recent concept, rooted in World War II,1 and even if heterogeneous toponyms have been used in the past to encompass parts or the entire region—such as Indochina, Insulindia, and Australasia2—this area has consistently been considered throughout history as a critical maritime lock between the East and the West. Because of the seasonal monsoons, indianized thalassocracies like the Funan and Sriwijaya as well as trade sultanates like Malacca and Demak took advantage of this strategic crossroads to successively manage the coasts and to shelter Indian, Chinese, Arab, and Western merchants. Today, Southeast Asia continues to be a critical node for travelers and traders, formal and informal flows, civilian and military people: the airports ofJakarta, Singapore, Bangkok, and Kuala Lumpur are respectively the eighth, tenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth biggest airports in the world in terms of passenger traffic3; Singapore is both the fourth biggest financial hub and the second port for containers in the world; in terms of oil flows, in 2011, 15.2 million barrels per day crossed the Malacca Straits while only 3.8 passed through Bab el Mandeb, in the Gulf of Aden.4 The region is made up of archipelagic states (Indonesia: 17,000 islands; Philippines: 7,000 islands) and many of its straits can be used by both merchant vessels and warships.


Territorial Dispute Transnational Crime Maritime Security Military Presence Police Cooperation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Hugo Meijer 2015

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  • Eric Frécon
  • Hugo Meijer

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