Global trends and Southeast Asia

Updated On: Dec 01, 2008

The US National Intelligence Council (NIC) drew up the report “Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World” which effectively acknowledged that by 2025 the current unipolar system will be transformed into a multipolar one with the rise of China and India. Its economic and military power would have eroded by then.

By 2025, the report states that China will be the world’s second largest economy, a major military power and the largest importer of natural resources and a major polluter with more states gravitating towards its state-centered model. Inevitably some of these states attracted by the Chinese model will be Southeast Asian.

Southeast Asia is not featured prominently in the same report. The report states that the region might be troubled by terrorism in its sealanes. Shorter shipping distances between North Pacific and North Atlantic will be a severe blow to Southeast Asia, especially Singapore. This could start to occur as early as 2013. Resource scarcity will also see mass migration from Southeast Asia to Australia.

The region will have to contend with a powerful China, a declining US, a strengthening India-US partnership, a weakening Japan. The same report also predicts that naval rivalry between China and India for resources will see a naval competition between the two powers in Southeast Asia’s maritime sealanes including the Straits of Malacca. China could also adopt a stronger position in the South China Seas and its increased nationalism could demand deference from Southeast Asia on global issues.

The report is optimistic when commenting on Asian regionalism, especially the ASEAN Plus Three mechanism which is sees as a pan-Asian organization that can augment economic integration and insulate the region from global financial turmoil and provide greater say for East Asians at the international bargaining table.


Chanda, Nayan, “Talking global, thinking local” dated 27 November 2008 in the Straits Times (Singapore: Singapore Press Holdings), p. A34.

Storey, Ian, “Power shifts The Impact on S-E Asia” dated 27 November 2008 in the Straits Times (Singapore: Singapore Press Holdings), p. A34.

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