Paper for the Conference ’Security in the South Asia and Indian Ocean region’, Institute of International Relations, University of Warsaw and Centre for Contemporary India Research and Studies, Institute of International Relations, University of Warsaw, 23 May 2011. The main objective of this paper is to examine the implications of the major shifts in foreign policy of China and India and an attempt to look at epistemic actors and social forces influence on foreign policy. Both countries are struggling for a hegemonic position in the developing countries and especially in Southeast Asia and as emerging poles in a new hybrid multi-polar system. This struggle comes in different forms, sectors and countries and is in many cases intertwined geo-political and geo-economic rivalry. It is not always possible to distinguish between traditional security related rivalry or mere state based or private sector based competition. As this paper argues the rivalry which is unfolding in the Southeast Asian region is being played out in light of the wider global arena where also the interest and capabilities of the United States must be taken into consideration. The rivalry is manifold and therefore the analysis must be based on an approach which seeks to explain the interrelated variables, inconsistencies and disruptive effects of India's and China’s dramatic rise and insertion into the global political economy and more specifically how this relationship is playing out in Southeast Asia.