Southeast Asia and China: Balancing or Bandwagoning?
- Contemporary Southeast Asia: A Journal of International and Strategic Affairs
- ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute
- Volume 27, Number 2, August 2005
- pp. 305-322
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Southeast Asian states as a group employ two general strategies to protect themselves against domination by a strong China: engagement and hedging. The hedging includes maintaining a modest level of defence cooperation with the United States, which may be called low-intensity balancing against China. This is most clear in the cases of the Philippines and Singapore, and more subtle in the cases of Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia. Thailand appears to practice simple hedging, while Myanmar has no alternative to cooperation with China. The region bandwagons with China only to the extent that it desires trade with China and seeks to avoid the costs of alienating the region's rising great power. These findings suggest the region is far from passive, the United States is still a relevant player, and acceptance of China is premised on Beijing's adherence to the promises made in its recent diplomatic campaign.