Why Southeast Asia Remains a Hotbed for Piracy

Why Southeast Asia Remains a Hotbed for Piracy
Special Forces rehearse after the launching of a joint patrol between Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines at the Subang military airbase, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, Oct. 12, 2017 (AP photo by Vincent Thian).

Late last month, Japan and Malaysia concluded a weeklong joint coast guard exercise focused on combating piracy in Southeast Asia. Despite a recent decline, piracy is still a threat across the region and cooperation between states—including some, like Japan, that are outside the region—is seen as an important mechanism for mitigating it. In an email interview, Lucio Blanco Pitlo III, a foreign affairs and security analyst on Asia-Pacific issues and a former lecturer at the School of Social Sciences at Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines, discusses the state of piracy in Southeast Asia and what kinds of multilateral responses have emerged to counter it.

WPR: How much of a threat is piracy in Southeast Asia, and how has it evolved in recent years?

Lucio Blanco Pitlo III: The waters of Southeast Asia, including the Malacca Straits and South China Sea, are among the world’s most critical passageways for seaborne commerce. Aside from the lure of lucrative gain, a confluence of other factors is at play in making the region a hotbed for piracy. There is the vast expanse of coastline and maritime areas among the world’s largest archipelagoes, like Indonesia and the Philippines. There are overlapping maritime claims and animosities between states. Moreover, political instability and limited naval and maritime law enforcement assets combine to make combating piracy no easy feat.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.