I have great pleasure in presenting this fortieth edition of Southeast Asian Affairs. Over these past four decades, this annual review of the region has become an indispensable source of information and analysis for all those interested in Southeast Asian developments. It is designed to be easily readable so that it can be of value to both specialists and non-specialists.
In 2012 Southeast Asia showed impressive economic resilience in the face of weak demand in the developed economies and risks posed by financial stresses in the eurozone. It was geopolitics which perhaps drew more attention — and concern. New leaders took over the reins of power in China, Japan, South Korea, and North Korea. President Obama was re-elected for a second term. The U.S. “rebalancing” to Asia, announced in late 2011, raised considerable interest, and in some quarters, concern. There were signs that the Sino-American relationship would see more strategic competition notwithstanding the many cooperative aspects to it. Disputes in the East China Sea aroused fears of a clash between China and Japan through miscalculation. Tensions in the South China Sea continued, with no early prospect of a legally binding Code of Conduct. Within Southeast Asia, Myanmar continued on the path of reform but faced huge challenges in translating good intentions into policy and implementation that would better the lives of ordinary people and ensure domestic stability.
I would like to thank the authors and the editor, as well as others in ISEAS who have helped to make this publication possible. The chapters in the volume contain a wide variety of views and perspectives. The authors alone are responsible for the facts and opinions expressed in their contributions. Needless to say, their interpretations do not necessarily reflect the views of the Institute. [End Page vii]