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Foreword

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 January 2018

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Summary

It is my pleasure to present the forty-fourth edition of Southeast Asian Affairs. The information and analysis in this forward-looking annual review will be useful for all interested in contemporary developments in Southeast Asia.

On the security front, the election of Donald Trump has deepened questions about the role of the United States in Southeast Asia, while the election of Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines has sharply altered Southeast Asian approaches to the South China Sea disputes. The 12 July arbitral tribunal ruling that comprehensively undercut China's claims in the Spratlys, while precedent-setting for international maritime law, has had little effect on China's assertiveness.

Domestic politics in 2016 again underlined the region's diversity and different political cycles. In Singapore and Indonesia, consolidation and stability featured after recent national elections. In Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia and Timor-Leste, positioning for upcoming elections took precedence. For the Philippines, Vietnam, Myanmar and Laos, new governments took office.

The regional economic picture was similarly diverse, though all economies were affected by the regional ramifications of longer-term global economic changes. Exports’ contribution to growth continued to weaken, with many Southeast Asian economies suffering from slower GDP growth. Southeast Asia's demographic picture highlights the very different long-term economic challenges facing Southeast Asian countries and their impact on labour migration within the region.

I would like to thank the authors, the editors as well as others who have helped to make this publication possible. The chapters in the volume contain a wide variety of views and perspectives. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the Institute. The authors alone are responsible for the facts and opinions presented in their contributions.

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Publisher: ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute
Print publication year: 2017

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