Malaysia is located between the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea on one side, and the Indian Ocean and the Malacca Straits on the other, making it a country located in the middle of Southeast Asia. Its geographical feature positions Malaysia as a continental-rooted maritime nation, the linchpin bridge between the two ocean regions (“Defence White Paper”). This undoubtedly indicates that Malaysia priority will be placed upon matters pertaining maritime domain and maritime security.
A key pillar of US diplomacy in Asia is the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Under the Trump administration, this alliance was largely neglected; in fact, a formal US ambassador to ASEAN was never confirmed. However, re-establishing strong links with ASEAN countries will be crucial for the continued presence of the US in Asia; this includes ties with Japan.
The rivalry between the world powers China and the US is no longer restricted to the Pacific. The recent alliances and moves by both nations have shifted their directions towards the Indian Ocean. With India taking a front seat in the battleship holstered by the US, the maritime security of the region is distributed among competing contenders. With India all set to launch its hegemony over the Indian Ocean to counter the growing military and economic powers of China, Pakistan’s role becomes all the more essential to bring peace and stability in the maritime region. The Aman exercise provides Pakistan with the opportunity to establish itself as the guardian of peaceful coexistence in the region.