Huong Le Thu

Huong Le Thu

Deputy Program Director, Asia

Crisis Group Role

As Deputy Director of the Asia Program, Huong supports the Program Director with design and delivery of research, publication, advocacy and outreach. She provides strategic direction for the Asia Program, sets priorities and oversees the implementation of research activities and external partnerships. Huong also regularly participates in 1.5 track dialogues, briefs representatives of foreign ministries and international organisations, and is regularly involved in advocacy efforts internationally.

Joining in September 2023, Dr Le Thu brings to the team expertise on international security and geopolitics of the Indo-Pacific. Huong also undertakes research related to the geopolitics of the region, primarily in the context of the US-China competition.

Professional Background

Huong has been working in the fields of international security and foreign policy across academia, think tanks and international organisations for nearly two decades. She conducts research on different aspects of security, diplomacy and politics of Asia. She has lived and worked primarily in Northeast and Southeast Asia, including Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, Vietnam and Malaysia. Huong has taught at universities, including the Australian National University, National Chengchi University, and worked with a number of top think tanks in the region, including ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute and Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

Huong, who speaks five languages and has published in four of them, is a prolific writer and influential analyst. Her work frequently appears in policy-makers must-read lists and regularly features in global and regional media, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Economist, Financial Times, among others. Huong has a PhD degree in International Relations, and Masters and Honors in Political Science and Asian Studies.

Areas of Expertise

  • Security and diplomacy in East Asia
  • China and US relations with Southeast Asia 
  • Geopolitics of great power competition
  • ASEAN and regional architecture
  • Technology policy and “tech war”
  • Power of strategic narratives


  • English
  • Chinese Mandarin
  • Vietnamese
  • Polish
  • Spanish

Select Publications

  • “Hanoi’s American Hedge: Why a new US Partnership is unlikely to change Vietnam’s Multi-alignment Strategy”, Foreign Affairs Magazine, September 2023.
  • “How to Survive a Great-Power Competition: Southeast Asia’s Precarious Balancing Act”,  Foreign Affairs Magazine, May/June 2023.
  • “ASEAN’s wishful denial of geopolitical realities will leave the bloc a bystander”, Nikkei Asian Review, November 2022.
  • “Japan’s Crucial Role in Southeast Asia amid the Ukraine War”, CSIS Commentary, April 2022.
  • “ASEAN needs to uphold principles, not neutrality, in the Ukraine war”, Nikkei Asian Review, March 2022.
  • “Southeast Asia in Great-Power Competition: Between Asserting Agency and Muddling Through” in: Navigating Tumultuous Times in the Indo-Pacific, Strategic Asia 2021-2022.
  • “Australia must be ASEAN’s digital transformation partner”, Australian Financial Review, June 2022.
  • “Biden’s Indo-Pacific Strategy: Traps to Avoid in Southeast Asia,” Global Asia, vol. 16, no. 4, December 2021
  • “Biden Must Change the Narrative of Neglect for Southeast Asia”, Foreign Policy, July 2021.
  • “Securing the Mekong Subregion’s Future through Transitioning to Renewable Energy”, The National Bureau of Asian Research, Asia EDGE, July 2021.
  • “Covid-19 and Geopolitics of Southeast Asia”, Asia Society, 2021.
  • “Vietnam and the search for Security Leadership in ASEAN”, The Asian Security, vol. 17 (1), 2020.
  • “The South China Sea: Short of War, Far from Peace”, RUSI Brief. March 2020.
  • “China's Dual Strategy of Coercion and Inducement towards ASEAN”, The Pacific Review, vol. 32 (1) 2019.
  • “A Collision of Cybersecurity and Geopolitics: Why Southeast Asia Is Wary of a Huawei Ban”, Global Asia, vol.14 (3) 2019.
  • “Southeast Asian Narratives about US-China Competition Part 1 & 2”, The Strategist, November 2019.
  • “Southeast Asian Perceptions of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue: Survey Findings”, Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Special Report 2018.
  • “North Korea would find Vietnam’s road to modernisation hard going”, Financial Times, July 2018.
  • “Australia and ASEAN: Together for the Sake of a New Multipolar World Order”, Security Challenges, Vol. 14, No. 1 (2018).
  • “Southeast Asians Hope for Neutrality, Prepare for a Choice”, PacNet, November 2019.
  • “Three Traps in Building the Indo-Pacific Narrative Thus Far”, Pacific Forum, No. 43, 2018.
  • “The Dangerous Quest for Code of Conduct in the South China Sea”, Asia Transparency Initiative, July 2018.

In The News

19 ဇွန်လ 2024
[Russia and Vietnam] were once on the same side of history, they shared the same ideology against Western capitalism and imperialism. And the legacy of shared ideology is... Al Jazeera

Huong Le Thu

Deputy Program Director, Asia
18 ဒီဇင်ဘာလ 2023
Japan, who is by far the most trusted partner of many ASEAN member states, is stepping up in playing a security role in the [Indo-Pacific] region. Radio Free Asia

Huong Le Thu

Deputy Program Director, Asia
12 ဒီဇင်ဘာလ 2023
Vietnam fought wars with both US and China, and now has comprehensive strategic partnerships [the highest level] with both of them — that is a masterclass of diplomacy. Financial Times

Huong Le Thu

Deputy Program Director, Asia

Subscribe to Crisis Group’s Email Updates

Receive the best source of conflict analysis right in your inbox.