75.1% Of Malaysians Prefer China Over The US, Singaporean Think Tank Finds

The survey also found that majority of people in Southeast Asia prefer China.

Cover image via AP Pic / New Straits Times

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A total of 50.5% of Southeast Asians would pick China over the US in the event they're forced to choose sides, with Malaysians leading the region

Singaporean think tank, ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, found that 49.5% would choose the US in its latest State of Southeast Asia 2024 survey.

This is the first time China has surpassed the US since the think tank began the annual survey, which started in 2020.

China's President Xi Jinping has been investing heavily in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Laos.

Image via AFP / New Straits Times

In last year's survey, only 38.9% of respondents preferred China, while 61.1% opted for the US

The think tank surveyed Southeast Asians from the private and public sectors, including academics and researchers.

With geopolitical and regional issues at play and an intense rivalry between both global superpowers, other nations in the region have also shifted their alignment. 

US President Joe Biden's administration could engage Southeast Asian countries more.

Image via AFP / New Straits Times

With 75.1% choosing China, Malaysia leads Southeast Asia in preferring China over the US, followed by Indonesia and Laos

73.2% of Indonesians and 70.6% of people in Laos said they would favour China over the US.

According to ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, the positive sentiments are likely due to China's Belt and Road infrastructure initiative, positive trade relations, and investments made in all three countries.

Meanwhile, the think tank said that the lack of engagement from the US, especially under Joe Biden's administration, is also another likely reason for the decline in favouritism towards the country.

However, the survey also found that the Southeast Asian region as a whole doesn't want to pick sides

Only 8% of those surveyed said remaining neutral is impractical if they're forced to pick favourites.

Interestingly, 46.8% said they prefer shoring up resilience and unity to counter pressure from both superpowers.

The think tank surveyed 1,994 people from 3 January to 23 February.

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