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China’s military diplomacy in Southeast Asia

  • Published
    1st Jun, 2023

China is expanding its military outreach to Southeast Asian countries.

Key Highlights
  • China is expanding its military outreach to Southeast Asian countries due to geopolitical competition and security interests.
  • The PLA's global activities and influence campaigns are part of its reform process, and ASEAN has become a priority target for its military diplomacy.

What is the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) currently undertaking?

  • Bilateral Military Exercise: The PLA and the Laotian People’s Armed Forces (LPAF) have recently concluded their bilateral military exercise, Friendship Shield 2023.
    • The drills aim to foster interoperability to effectivelycounter transnational armed criminal groups based in jungles and mountains.” 
  • Threat: China’s threat perception of expanding the United States military engagement with countries in the Asia-Pacific region, especially those countries that China has disputes with in the South and East China Seas region.

India’s engagement with Southeast Asia:

  • India's defence diplomacy has been greatly influenced by China's continued hostility in the area, especially in the South China Sea.
  • India has increased cooperation with various Southeast Asian nations in recent years. To counterbalance China and strengthen their marine security, they are also eager to strengthen their security ties with India.
  • India's increasing defence diplomacy footprint from the West to Southeast Asia is symbolised by the Milan exercise's growing participant count and the sophistication of the drills.
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