The article analyzes the factors influencing the nature of cooperation between Southeast Asian countries with the United States and the directions of its implementation in the context of the escalating rivalry between the United States and China, who seek to influence them. The US interest in the region is primarily determined by the tasks of containing China and strengthening its position in the Indo-Pacific region by expanding ties with partners and allies. The approach of the Southeast Asian countries towards cooperation with the United States is motivated by two considerations – strategic and economic. In the context of growing concerns about China’s expansion in the region and the persisting territorial disputes with it in the South China Sea, the United States in the eyes of these states is considered a stabilizing factor of the regional security system. The article points out that despite the fact that the Southeast Asian countries are interested in the presence of the United States in the region, the anti-Chinese orientation of American policy limits the potential of their strategic interaction. Case studies of individual Southeast Asian countries confirm their commitment to the principle of inclusiveness in foreign policy, which excludes choosing one party over the other. Despite the fears inherent in Southeast Asian countries about the expansion of China’s influence, they prefer to pursue a hedging policy, which in reality manifests itself in the desire to balance between competing parties in order to neutralize risks and preserve strategic autonomy. This explains the dualism of the Southeast Asian countries’ policies and affects their cooperation with the United States in the field of security, which, despite the intensification of diplomatic activities of Biden’s administration and the conclusion of a comprehensive strategic partnership agreement, is developing slowly, except for the ongoing joint military exercises and arms purchases. In general, the Southeast Asian countries are – and contribute to – solving problems they consider important, primarily in the field of economy. Contrary to the prevailing idea of China’s economic dominance in the region, the economic relations of the Southeast Asian countries with the United States have been stable for a decade, developing in an upward direction, and beneficial for the Southeast Asian countries themselves. Economic cooperation remains a priority of their interaction with the United States, despite the importance of developing security relations. Pragmatism and the acknowledgement of the emerging geopolitical situation in the region determines the parameters of interaction between the Southeast Asian countries and the United States.

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