A traditional stronghold for the US ‘pivot to Asia’, South East Asia has recently been on the receiving end of China’s courtship display. The conflicting messages conveyed by the US and China have also been aggravating the electoral challenges that many South East Asian states are currently facing. In particular, general elections in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand have offered new evidence of the type of political transition that the region is en route to complete. At the same time, Vietnam – an authoritarian regime regulated by a one-party system – has been experiencing an economic growth since the adoption of an opening-up policy, while Myanmar’s feeble democracy remains bound to military control over society. What is the region’s political stance today? Which foreign powers have displayed the most interest in the region? And to what extent are they affecting political transition in South East Asia?