On June 21, leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) met in Bangkok. One large item on the agenda: how to maintain relationships with rivals US and China. Just 2 days before regional leaders met, another, very different, conference was held just a few blocks down.

In its fourth year, TechSauce is the largest tech conference of its kind in Southeast Asia. My second year attending the conference and my second time in Southeast Asia, I found myself discovering firsthand what many had told me before: the region is poised to see its tech industry grow faster than anywhere else in the world.

For many years, entrepreneurs and VCs in China have talked about the opportunities presented by SEA with many saying the region is like China 10 years ago. While we at TechNode don’t cover SEA directly, we have covered the entry of tech giants into the market extensively. That, however, doesn’t quite capture the energy, ambition, and hunger, as well as contradictions, I experienced this year.

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John Artman is the Editor in Chief for TechNode, the leading English information source for news and insight into China’s tech and startups, and co-host of the China Tech Talk podcast, a regular discussion... More by John Artman