This paper surveys the reactions amongst ASEAN member states following the announcement of AUKUS. By “reactions”, this paper argues, one needs to look beyond the obvious rhetoric – such as those evinced by Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur immediately after the deal was publicized. Beyond rhetoric, “reactions” also encompass the less apparent policy actions which may subtly reflect the sentiments of ASEAN capitals to AUKUS. Such policy actions as the aforementioned elevation of ASEAN-Australia relations to one of comprehensive security partnership are arguably more decisive than mere open press statements or random remarks by ASEAN political elites and policy planners. Of course, this paper would not stop at surveying those reactions but attempts to underline the strategic rationale. It argues that Southeast Asian perceptions towards evolving geopolitical uncertainties in the region, including concerns over the rise and growing assertiveness of China, could have shaped sentiments towards AUKUS, manifested not only in words but through more tangible, albeit less obvious, policy actions.
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