Online CSR: Southeast Asian Struggle: Caught Up in the U.S.-China 5G Rivalry

By Seungha Lee

I. Introduction

Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd—the leading telecommunications equipment provider from China—has become a global leader in the construction of 5G networks.[i] Yet, with its increasing dominance, Huawei has come under international scrutiny for allegedly posing national security risks. The U.S. government, in particular, has accused it of being a conduit for Chinese government spying,[ii] arguing that Huawei has suspiciously close ties with both military and intelligence agencies and that China’s laws allow the government easy access to Huawei’s data.[iii] To this end, the U.S. government has imposed nationwide bans on the company’s technology and warned other countries to refrain from using Huawei’s equipment.[iv]

While U.S. allies have started to re-evaluate their 5G options, non-allied countries have generally decided to either accept Huawei’s presence or lag behind in making their decisions. This paper addresses the decisions of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states with regard to Huawei for two primary reasons. First, ASEAN is caught between the U.S. and China due to its heavy reliance upon both countries. Second, despite the close ties which ASEAN member countries enjoy with both superpowers, nine out of ten ASEAN countries (with Vietnam as the exception) have ignored U.S. warnings. Through case studies of the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam, this paper argues that ASEAN countries have embraced Huawei because the company’s technology is central to achieving national plans of advancing their economic and technological status. Regardless of the reasoning behind these decisions, the general openness of ASEAN countries towards Huawei imposes significant national security threats to the United States. For this reason, this paper delivers policy recommendations to the U.S. government to build a closer, more mutually beneficial relationship with ASEAN countries in this contested space.

II. What Is Unique About ASEAN and Its Decision in the U.S.-China 5G Rivalry?

The possibilities for ASEAN’s future development are enormous. If ASEAN were a single country, it would contain the world’s third-largest population, the fifth-largest economy, as well as an exceedingly young population.[v] These population demographics create an attractive environment for the 5G technology market. Huawei estimates that the economic opportunities present in ASEAN could be worth as much as 1.2 trillion USD, stemming from an estimated 80 million potential 5G service subscribers.[vi] With such enormous economic potential, it is unsurprising that 5G technology competition in ASEAN has now turned into a major battleground between two great powers, the U.S. and China.

Aside from the fact that ASEAN is a favorable locus for the 5G technology market in general, ASEAN countries have two distinctive characteristics that reward further study. First, while the nature of their relations rather differs, ASEAN countries have exceedingly close relations with both China and the United States. The U.S. has historically maintained balanced diplomatic, economic, and security relations with the ASEAN countries, while China has primarily relied on its economic connections, becoming the largest trading partner of multiple ASEAN countries within the last decade.[vii] The U.S. and ASEAN have been coordinating on many diplomatic issues since the beginning of the U.S.-ASEAN relationship in 1977.[viii] For instance, the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI)—a multinational partnership among Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and the U.S.—has served as a platform to enhance cooperation on areas of environment, health, education, and infrastructure development.[ix] Additionally, the U.S. has been able to promote economic engagement in ASEAN through the establishment of the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), which facilitates trade and investment between the U.S. and other parties,[x] and through the U.S.-ASEAN Connect, a strategic framework which encourages robust private sector engagement.[xi] Finally, in order to support shared commitments to maritime security, particularly in the South China Sea, the U.S. Navy and maritime forces from ASEAN completed the first ASEAN-U.S. Maritime Exercise (AUMX) in September 2019.[xii]

In contrast, China has been heavily reliant on investments and financial assistance to build its relationship with ASEAN, although it has occasionally used economic coercion.[xiii] While several Chinese projects have been ongoing for more than 20 years,[xiv] China’s vision in ASEAN became notably clearer in 2013 when President Xi began prioritizing “周边外交,”[xv] or “periphery diplomacy”, with the goal of pursuing a “community of common destiny.”[xvi] China has been increasingly advocating Xi’s foreign policy in ASEAN through economic statecraft, particularly by means of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).[xvii] Furthermore, similar to the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) that the U.S. has promoted, China has been advancing its economic and political ambition in ASEAN through its sub-regional initiative, the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC). Comprised of six countries—Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, China, and Myanmar—the objective of this mechanism is to coordinate BRI projects and support economic and social development in these regions.[xviii] For instance, China plans to invest 22 billion USD in the LMC to support trade, agriculture, and poverty alleviation projects.[xix]

Second, while ASEAN has maintained tight relations with both the U.S. and China, it has expressed positive reactions exclusively to China in this 5G battleground. The current trends in ASEAN clearly indicate that the American campaign against Huawei has been ineffective since, aside from Vietnam, ASEAN countries—even those of U.S. allies such as Thailand and the Philippines—have shown positive, or at least neutral, reactions to Huawei. Surprisingly, many ASEAN countries have disregarded Huawei’s potential national security threat, and even countries that are hesitant about using Huawei technology still have conducted 5G trials with the company. Below is a brief overview of ASEAN member countries’ response to Huawei technology:

ASEAN nationsCurrent Response to Huawei
IndonesiaIndonesia “can’t be paranoid” about limiting Huawei, and state-controlled carrier Telkom had agreed to use Huawei.[xx]
SingaporeWhile Singapore will be careful in choosing 5G equipment, it is unrealistic “to expect 100 per cent security from any telecoms systems.”[xxi]
ThailandThailand has moved forward with Huawei by launching a 5G test bed with Huawei.[xxii]
MalaysiaMalaysia does not oppose its telecoms companies working with Huawei,[xxiii] but whether to accept Huawei will depend on its own security standards.[xxiv]
PhilippinesThe Philippines has launched the region’s first 5G service, and Huawei will lead its 5G rollout.[xxv]
VietnamVietnam has decided not to use Huawei, and its largest mobile carrier Viettel instead plans to launch its own commercial 5G service.[xxvi]  
CambodiaIts government signed an agreement with Huawei to help the country to build its 5G network, and Smart Axiata began 5G trials with Huawei.[xxvii]
BruneiWhile little is reported about Brunei’s response to Huawei, Huawei ‘s substantial presence in the region will likely extend to bringing in 5G.[xxviii]
MyanmarMyanmar has decided to work with Huawei in developing 5G networks.[xxix]
LaosHuawei presented its latest technology solutions in Laos, which includes 5G technology.[xxx]

Among various reasons behind ASEAN’s collective affirmative decision, two commonly accepted explanations are the following. First, executive decision-makers in ASEAN countries believe that China has a greater economic influence on the region than the U.S. (a widespread, yet mistaken assumption),[xxxi] and therefore they are reluctant to go against China.[xxxii] According to The State of Southeast Asia: 2019 Survey Report, 73.3% of ASEAN policy experts, businesspeople, and other stakeholders replied that currently, China has the greatest amount of economic influence in Southeast Asia, as against 7.9% for the United States.[xxxiii] Second, ASEAN’s heavy dependence on trade and investment from China has made its members fearful of China’s economic leverage.[xxxiv] For instance, China has used its military-economic coercive tactics to settle international disputes in the South China Sea. When China enforced unilateral fishing bans on the South China Sea for two months, doing so directly affected the livelihoods of Vietnamese, Bruneian, Malaysian, and Filipino fishermen.[xxxv]

While these two explanations are reasonable to some extent, this paper argues that ASEAN’s decision to embrace Huawei’s 5G technology was not solely motivated by what China or the U.S. could do to the region. To ASEAN countries, the decisive issue is that Huawei can bring high-quality networks for relatively low prices. The Chinese government regards Huawei as an official “national champion” and has been explicitly supporting Huawei more than any other domestic telecom company.[xxxvi] Due to high government subsidies, Huawei can provide 5G networks at a price of roughly 30 percent less than that of other international competitors.[xxxvii] In the Netherland, Huawei’s bidding cost in providing a 5G network was even 60 percent lower than that of Swedish firm Ericsson.[xxxviii] In sum, ASEAN members are trying to be realistic in making their decisions by holding domestic capabilities and economic incentives that Huawei can bring in the highest regard.  

III. Case Studies: Implications of the ASEAN Decision

As the previous section shows, nine ASEAN countries have started to get involved with Huawei technology, but each has taken different directions in its approaches. This paper examines three particular ASEAN countries (the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam) and their responses to Huawei technology to illustrate ASEAN’s general motives in accepting the company’s 5G equipment. The Philippines and Thailand are interesting case studies insofar as they are the two U.S. treaty allies that have ignored U.S. suggestions to refrain from using Huawei equipment. Vietnam is worthy of further examination because it is the only ASEAN country that declined to use Huawei as a vendor.

The case studies below of the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam include two main parts. The first part of the analysis covers the individual country’s recent policy and reaction towards Huawei technology. The second part discusses the American perspective with regards to each country’s decision, and whether the U.S. should continue to be concerned about the impact of ASEAN decisions on U.S. national security. The second part of the discussion also includes an examination of each country’s cybersecurity capabilities by referencing the report released by the United Kingdom-based tech research company Comparitech.[xxxix] The report investigates 60 countries worldwide in terms of cybersecurity strength, and six ASEAN countries—including the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam—were ranked in terms of their ability to confront cyber-attacks.[xl]


The Philippines, one of the two U.S.-allied countries in the Southeast Asian region, decided to embrace Huawei technology despite its seven-decade long treaty alliance with the United States.[xli] Following this decision, the two major telecommunications companies of the Philippines have decided to engage with Huawei, with Globe Telecom Inc. launching Southeast Asia’s first 5G broadband service,[xlii] and Smart Communications collaborating with Huawei to build a digital indoor system.[xliii] Furthermore, President Duterte’s government plans to use Huawei as a major player in its anti-crime project, the Safe Philippines, for which the government will install more than 10,000 high-definition security cameras.[xliv] Regarding U.S. security concerns, the government of the Philippines has maintained confidence in its abilities to address potential privacy and security issues. The authorities in charge of the Safe Philippines argued that the system would include “the necessary firewalls to protect the system from hackers and other threats,” and a senior official in the Department of the Interior and Local Government, Diosdado T. Valeroso, was quite certain about the country’s capabilities to protect data regardless of threats arising from any suppliers.[xlv]

However, from the standpoint of the United States, the Philippines’ decision to side with Huawei could be deeply concerning. First of all, as one of the oldest U.S. allies in Asia, the Philippines has maintained strong political, military, and historical ties with the United States. In particular, the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) have allowed U.S. forces to expand their access to the Philippines’ strategic bases, and in 2019 alone the U.S. has conducted approximately 300 joint military activities.[xlvi] Yet, regardless of their close relationship, the Philippines has openly announced that it will embrace Huawei’s technology. Such a decision heightens American fears about the security of their bases, because if the accusations of critics are true, U.S. intelligence-gathering and pre-positioned weaponry—which is regarded as potentially directed towards China—is no longer secure at this moment. Additionally,  given that the Philippines ranks 36th out of 60 countries in cyber protection capacity, U.S. security concerns are highly reasonable.[xlvii] While the Filipino government implemented the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 and has been working increasingly on strengthening its cyber defense, the country has long suffered from malware attacks and crypto miners. According to the report, approximately 11% of its mobile devices and 24% of its computers are currently infected.[xlviii] Therefore, the U.S. military and security involvement in the Philippines combined with the country’s vulnerabilities to cyber-attacks give sufficient reason for the U.S. to be concerned about Huawei’s entrance into the Philippines.


Another U.S. treaty ally, Thailand—a country with the second-largest economy in Southeast Asia—has also favored China over the U.S. in the 5G technology battle. Despite the U.S.’s attempt to restrain Thailand from using Huawei technology, Thailand has continuously shown interest in Huawei’s 5G equipment, viewing it as indispensable for the country to become the leading center of technology development and manufacturing in ASEAN. The Thai government also found Huawei suitable to push its national plan to promote 5G infrastructure investment within its Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) and to adopt 5G technology by 2020.[xlix] To this end, the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society has organized a working committee with 29 local and international members, including Huawei, to build a 5G test bed to improve the 5G ecosystem.[l] In response to the American’s concerns over the Huawei 5G test bed launch in Thailand, the Minister of Digital Economy, Pichet Durongkaveroj, noted that Huawei is only one of many companies that the country has invited.[li] He further commented that by embracing Huawei, Thailand “can make observations which will be useful to either confirm or disconfirm the allegations.”[lii]

When comparing the advancement of Huawei’s technology embeddedness in Thailand to the Philippines, it is relatively difficult to analyze the impact of embracing Huawei technology in the country because Huawei has yet to sign a 5G commercial contract with Thailand. According to Durongkaveroj, the 5G test bed recently launched in the country is only in the testing period, and since Thailand is currently concerned about security issues, it has been paying close attention to the allegations worldwide on Huawei.[liii] Yet, apart from Thailand’s real intent of being open to Huawei, the report produced by Comparitech concludes that Thailand’s cybersecurity rating was not as bad as the U.S. worried it would be since Thailand ranked relatively high, placing 26th out of 60 countries.[liv] Among the countries in the “maturing” stage, Thailand ranked the highest, just below the “advanced” category, a sign that Thailand has taken demonstrable steps to improve cybersecurity. For instance, through a newly revised cybersecurity law passed in November 2018,[lv] Thailand has managed to cut down malware and achieved a 68% capacity to protect itself from cyber-attacks, a percentage higher than European countries such as Denmark, Ireland, and Belgium.[lvi] To this end, it is challenging to determine the impact of Thailand’s decision on U.S. security at the moment. Furthermore, Thailand’s current status of Huawei’s involvement and its cybersecurity capacity does not give the U.S. sufficient evidence to criticize Thailand for its decision.


Vietnam is an outlier in Southeast Asia, the only country that has decided to avoid using Huawei’s 5G technology in its domestic market. In its place, the state-owned telecom company Viettel will deploy 5G equipment from Ericsson AB and Nokia Oyi, as well as use chipsets from U.S. companies.[lvii] At the same time, the carrier has been trying to develop its own 5G technology, with the goal of developing 80 percent of the equipment from its own country.[lviii] Responding to U.S. warnings against Huawei, Viettel Chief Executive Officer Le Dang Dung, stated that the decision to avoid using Huawei is exclusively about technology, not about geopolitical considerations.[lix] He commented, “We decided not to use Huawei, not because of the U.S. ban on Huawei – we just made our own decision.”[lx] Furthermore, Vietnam’s goal of becoming one of the first countries to build its own 5G technology will align well with the country’s national strategy, which is to reform its economy and advance its economic development from the high-tech manufacturing sector.[lxi]

Currently, many Vietnamese mobile carriers—including Viettel and other smaller ones—do not trust Huawei, and, therefore, the U.S. may worry less about Huawei’s presence in Vietnam. However, regardless of Vietnam’s current status in the U.S.-China 5G rivalry, the country’s cybersecurity weakness unexpectedly stands out; according to Comparitech, Vietnam ranked the third worst out of 60 countries, making it one of the most vulnerable and likely to be targeted by cyberattacks.[lxii] Vietnam is still in the “initiating” stage in terms of cybersecurity, meaning it has the fewest cyber-related preventative programs. The report elaborated that almost 10% of Vietnam’s mobile devices and more than 20% of its computers are infected with malware.[lxiii] In this manner, Vietnam’s vulnerability in cybersecurity obliges the U.S. to keep a close eye on the country’s future movement.


The case studies of the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam suggest that the main driver of their decisions to introduce Huawei technology was the desire to improve their domestic technological advancement and economic status. From the U.S. side, since national security comes first in this 5G battle, its concern over Huawei’s potential threat is reasonable—especially in the cases of the Philippines and Vietnam—as the U.S. has close security cooperation with the Philippines and the two abovementioned countries were placed in the bottom ranks in a protective capacity. However, ASEAN has its own priorities, which do not align with the American interests in this 5G battleground. If each country’s development is taken into account, ASEAN’s desire to make good use of the opportunities Huawei offers is highly understandable. Therefore, the U.S. should neither doggedly push ASEAN to cease doing business with Huawei nor blame ASEAN for any consequences caused by embracing the company.

IV. ASEAN Hoping to Maintain Balance in the U.S.-China Rivalry

Thus far, no ASEAN member country except Vietnam has joined the U.S. campaign to block Huawei. Rather, the majority of ASEAN member countries have either embraced Huawei or expressed strong interest in Huawei technology. However, while they made such decisions for their own interests, it is important to note that ASEAN member countries do not want to choose a side in the U.S.-China technological rivalry. Even before this 5G technology competition started, members of ASEAN have continuously delivered speeches on how they have felt extremely uncomfortable being caught in the middle of the two superpowers.[lxiv] On November 15, 2018, at the ASEAN Summit, Singapore’s Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, revealed his concern over ASEAN countries facing circumstances where they have to partner with one country instead of the other.[lxv] At the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, he expressed again that he does not welcome Indo-Pacific cooperation if it excludes any region or “creates rival blocs, deepens fault lines or forces countries to take sides.”[lxvi] While ASEAN countries have resisted U.S. pressure to counteract China together, choosing Huawei and distancing themselves from the U.S. would not be a part of their ideal strategy either.[lxvii]

While China has been practicing its long-term efforts on influencing ASEAN through economic statecraft and military modernization, a Brookings report states that ASEAN perceives China’s influence as inevitable and something that they need to carefully deal with.[lxviii] Rather than being concerned about China’s pressure, ASEAN is mostly concerned about the rhetoric of the Trump administration pushing ASEAN to choose a side.[lxix] “The race to 5G is a race America must win,” said President Trump in April 2019.[lxx] The Trump administration aims to exclude China from the U.S. strategies on ASEAN, particularly by using the Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) strategy, a maritime security tactic that was developed to offset China’s influence in Asia. FOIP counterbalances Chinese activities, from military expansionism in the South China Sea to the economic development of BRI.[lxxi] Furthermore, the Trump administration emphasizes, in the Indo-Pacific Strategy Report, that China aims to “reorder the region to its advantage by leveraging military modernization, influence operations, and predatory economics to coerce other nations.”[lxxii] The Trump administration clearly intends to give a negative impression of China to ASEAN and persuade Southeast Asian countries to side with the U.S. to counter China’s power together. However, from the perspective of ASEAN’s countries, maintaining good relations with both superpowers is the ideal situation.[lxxiii]

V. Recommendations

Despite the growing importance of ASEAN’s 5G technology market, the U.S. government spends far less effort on ensuring efficient communication with ASEAN than with other allies, such as Australia and Japan.[lxxiv] President Trump’s absence from the 2018 ASEAN Summit in Singapore further adds to the notion that the U.S. is not fully committed to ASEAN.[lxxv] This report provides three specific recommendations to the U.S. government to help it deal with the current geopolitical competition in ASEAN.

  • The U.S. government needs to develop a public education campaign to stress its contribution to ASEAN countries and better inform them of the potential threat of Huawei technology. Rather than simply banning Huawei and persuading ASEAN to join the U.S. campaign, the U.S. government should put more effort into addressing its concerns about technology security effectively and efficiently.[lxxvi] Even though the U.S. offers more diverse and greater economic benefits to ASEAN than China, ASEAN does not fully recognize the value of the U.S. in the region. Furthermore, the information on China’s past acts of state-supported theft and the threat of potential state espionage that the U.S. accuses has not been effectively shared with ASEAN countries, particularly when compared to the American’s information sharing with its closest allies, such as Australia and Japan. Therefore, a major public diplomacy campaign would advance this objective.
  • The U.S. government should find an alternative provider for ASEAN if it plans to continue persuading it to side with the U.S. to ban Huawei technology.[lxxvii] While a public campaign would work to some extent, the U.S. needs to bring ASEAN’s interests to the table, such as advanced technology with reasonable prices and economic incentives comparable to those of Huawei. Unless ASEAN countries invest their own and develop 5G technology for themselves, they have no other option but to choose Huawei, which currently offers 5G technology with far less price. Therefore, without the ability to offer alternative technologies that are competitive to Huawei, both technology-wise and cost-wise, the U.S. cannot efficiently persuade ASEAN to move away from Huawei.
  • The U.S. government should tone down its rhetoric towards China and should not continue promoting the Free and Open Indo-Pacific diplomacy (FOIP) strategy.[lxxviii] As discussed earlier, the Trump administration aims to leverage FOIP to limit China’s influence in Asia, but such a strategy may well be futile. As long as China has an increasingly significant role in ASEAN, the Trump administration’s constant rhetoric of pushing ASEAN to choose a side between the U.S. and China will not work in the U.S.’s favor. In the worst case, such strong rhetoric may result in U.S. exclusion from the ASEAN strategy.

For now, ASEAN member states estimate that the opportunities of embracing Huawei far exceed the challenges such a choice may bring. Yet, since their responses are not fully formed, the Trump administration’s diplomatic strategy is still capable of playing an influential on the region. For this reason, rather than placing ASEAN in an unwanted battleground, the U.S. government should put a more significant effort into developing its own technological capacities that can be competitive with Huawei while concurrently developing diplomatic strategies that will facilitate the U.S.-ASEAN relationship.

[i]  Lindsay Maizland and Andrew Chatzky, “Huawei: China’s Controversial Tech Giant,” CFR, February 12, 2020,

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] Lindsay Maizland and Andrew Chatzky, “Huawei: China’s Controversial Tech Giant,” CFR, February 12, 2020.

[iv] “Executive Order on Securing the Information and Communications Technology and Services Supply Chain,” The White House, (last visited March 18, 2020).

[v] Prashanth Parameswaran, “Southeast Asia’s Huawei Response in the Spotlight with First 5G Rollout,” The Diplomat, June 25, 2019,

[vi] “Southeast Asia Open to Huawei over 5G,” China Daily, August 6, 2019,

[vii] Huong Le Thu, “Cybersecurity and Geopolitics: Why Southeast Asia Is Wary of a Huawei Ban,” ASPI, October 5, 2019.

[viii] “The United States & ASEAN,” US-ASEAN Business Council, Inc. (last visited November 25, 2019).

[ix] “Lower Mekong Initiative,” U.S. Department of State, February 21, 2019,

[x] “History of the U.S. and ASEAN Relations,” U.S. Mission to ASEAN, (last visited December 1, 2019).

[xi] “U.S.-ASEAN Connect,” U.S. Mission to ASEAN, (last visited December 1, 2019).

[xii] Jesse Johnson, “First U.S.-ASEAN joint maritime drills kick off as Washington beefs up presence in South China Sea,” Japan Times, September 2, 2019,

[xiii] Daniel Kliman, “Addressing China’s Influence in Southeast Asia: America’s Approach and the Role of Congress,” CNAS, May 8, 2019,

[xiv] Huong Le Thu, “Cybersecurity and Geopolitics: Why Southeast Asia Is Wary of a Huawei Ban,” ASPI, October 5, 2019.

[xv] The Chinese Communist Party held the first forum on October 25, 2016, to specifically discuss 周边外交’ or ‘peripheral diplomacy.’ The primary purpose of the peripheral diplomacy was to strengthen China’s relationships with nearby states in different areas, including economic and security issues, and to enforce PRC sovereignty. Southeast Asia is one of the countries that Beijing considers to be peripheral States.

[xvi] Jonathan Stromseth, “Don’t Make Us Choose: Southeast Asia in the Throes of US-China Rivalry,” Brookings, October 2019, 3,

[xvii] Ibid.

[xviii] Jonathan Stromseth, “Don’t Make Us Choose: Southeast Asia in the Throes of US-China Rivalry,” Brookings, October 2019, 5.

[xix] Ibid.

[xx] “Indonesia cannot ‘be paranoid’ about curbing Huawei as telcos sign deals: minister,” Reuters, February 27, 2019,

[xxi] Afifah Darke, “Singapore needs secure 5G network, but every system will have vulnerabilities: PM Lee,” CAN, May 31, 2019,

[xxii] Patpicha Tanakasempipat, “Thailand launches Huawei 5G test bed, even as U.S. urges allies to bar Chinese gear,” Reuters, February 8, 2019,

[xxiii] Krishna Das, “Malaysia’s 5G plan a potential boon for China’s Huawei,” Reuters, September 24, 2019,

[xxiv] Joseph Sipalan and Krishna Das, “Malaysia to choose 5G partners based on own security standards,” Reuters, February 17, 2020,

[xxv] Richard Heydarian, “Ignoring the US, Philippines goes with Huawei,” Asia Times, July 18, 2019,

[xxvi] John Reed, “Vietnam’s biggest mobile company to roll out 5G services,” Financial Times, January 20, 2020,

[xxvii] “Cambodia’s Smart Axiata tests 5G network with China’s Huawei,” Reuters, July 8, 2019,

[xxviii] Austin Bodetti, “Brunei: Huawei’s Foothold in Southeast Asia,” Diplomat, April 3, 2019,

[xxix] “Myanmar to Keep Huawei Despite Security Concerns,” Voice of America, October 5, 2019,

[xxx] Taejun Kang, “Huawei to Boost Presence in Laos amid US Sanctions,” Laotian Times, July 3, 2019,

[xxxi] According to the ASEAN Investment Report 2018, even if US assistance to ASEAN were spread out across different areas of focus, US cumulative foreign direct investment (FDI) in ASEAN between 2010 and 2017 was still higher than China’s. In this period, America’s cumulative FDI totaled 1.2 billion USD, while China’s was only 60,415 million USD.

[xxxii] “The State of Southeast Asia: 2019 Survey Report,” Singapore: ASEAN Studies Center, ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, January 2019, 21,

[xxxiii] Ibid.

[xxxiv] Dan Blumenthal, “Economic Coercion as a Tool in China’s Grand Strategy,” AEI, July 24, 2018,

[xxxv] Ibid.

[xxxvi] Ibid.

[xxxvii] Lindsay Maizland and Andrew Chatzky, “Huawei: China’s Controversial Tech Giant,” CFR, February 12, 2020.

[xxxviii] Ibid.

[xxxix] “Black Hats, Hacks and Cyber Attacks,” Southeast Asia Globe, (last visited November 14, 2019).

[xl] The report incorporated information from two different methods. First, it examined each country’s scores from the Global Cybersecurity Index (GCI), which measured the country’s level of development in terms of cybersecurity from five categories: (i) Legal measures, (ii) Technical measures, (iii) Organizational measures, (iv) Capacity building, and (v) Cooperation. Second, all other detailed information discussed, such as the percentage of mobile phones and computers infected with malware, was gathered from the individual country.

[xli] Tribune News Service, “How Philippines’ embrace of Huawei reflects China’s growing influence and failure of US pressure tactics,” SCMP, June 11, 2019,

[xlii] Neil Jerome Morales, “Philippines’ Globe Telecoms launches 5G service backed by Huawei equipment,” Reuters, June 20, 2019,

[xliii] Urvashi Verma, “Smart Communications partners with Huawei to build 5G indoor system,” IN-BUILDING TECH, March 15, 2019,

[xliv] Tribune News Service, “How Philippines’ embrace of Huawei reflects China’s growing influence and failure of US pressure tactics,” SCMP, June 11, 2019.

[xlv] Ibid.

[xlvi] Richard Javad Heydarian, “Ignoring the US, Philippines goes with Huawei,” Asia Times, July 18, 2019.

[xlvii] “Black Hats, Hacks and Cyber Attacks,” Southeast Asia Globe (last visited November 14, 2019).

[xlviii] Ibid.

[xlix] Prashanth Parameswaran, “US-China 5G War: Southeast Asia Battleground in Focus with Huawei’s First Test Bed Launch,” The Diplomat, February 22, 2019,

[l] Ibid.

[li] Ibid.

[lii] Reuters, “Thailand launches Huawei 5G test bed, even as US urges allies to bar Chinese gear,” CNBC, February 8, 2019,

[liii] Ibid.

[liv]  “Black Hats, Hacks and Cyber Attacks,” Southeast Asia Globe (last visited November 14, 2019).

[lv] In November 2018, it revised its Cybersecurity bill and assembled a new government agency, the National Cybersecurity Committee, which has an authority to access private individuals’ computer and copy their data without receiving an order from the court.

[lvi] “Black Hats, Hacks and Cyber Attacks,” Southeast Asia Globe (last visited November 14, 2019).

[lvii] Bloomberg, “Vietnam shuns Huawei as it seeks to build Southeast Asia’s first 5G network,” SCMP, August 27, 2019,[lviii] Bennett Murray, “Vietnam Doesn’t Trust Huawei An Inch,” Foreign Policy, May 9, 2019,

[lix] Bloomberg, “Vietnam shuns Huawei as it seeks to build Southeast Asia’s first 5G network,” SCMP, August 27, 2019.

[lx] Ibid.

[lxi] Huong Le Thu, “Cybersecurity and geopolitics: why Southeast Asia is wary of a Huawei ban,” ASPI, October 5, 2019.

[lxii] “Black Hats, Hacks and Cyber Attacks,” Southeast Asia Globe (last visited November 14, 2019).

[lxiii] Ibid.

[lxiv] “PacNet #75 – Southeast Asians Hope for Neutrality, Prepare for a Choice,” Pacific Forum, November 20, 2018,

[lxv] “ASEAN May Have to Take Sides One Day, But PM Lee Hopes It ‘Does Not Happen Soon,’” Today, November 15, 2018,

[lxvi] Jonathan Stromseth, “Don’t Make us Choose: Southeast Asia in the Throes of US-China Rivalry,” Brookings, October 2019, 14.

[lxvii] Ibid, 2.

[lxviii] Ibid, 1.

[lxix] Ibid.

[lxx] “Remarks by President Trump on United States 5G Deployment,” The White House, April 12, 2019,

[lxxi] “PacNet #75 – Southeast Asians Hope for Neutrality, Prepare for a Choice,” Pacific Forum, November 20, 2018.

[lxxii] “Indo-Pacific Strategy Report: Preparedness, Partnerships, and Promoting a Networked Region,” U.S. Department of Defense, June 1, 2019.

[lxxiii] “PacNet #75 – Southeast Asians Hope for Neutrality, Prepare for a Choice,” Pacific Forum, November 20, 2018.

[lxxiv] Huong Le Thu, “Cybersecurity and Geopolitics: Why Southeast Asia Is Wary of a Huawei Ban,” ASPI, October 05, 2019.

[lxxv] “Trump’s Absence at The ASEAN Summit Signals the US Is ‘Not as Committed’ to Asia,” CNBC, November 14, 2018,

[lxxvi] Huong Le Thu, “Cybersecurity and Geopolitics: Why Southeast Asia Is Wary of a Huawei Ban,” ASPI, October 05, 2019.

[lxxvii] Ibid.

[lxxviii] Jonathan Stromseth, “Don’t Make us Choose: Southeast Asia in the Throes of US-China Rivalry,” Brookings, October 2019.

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