Abstract

Abstract:

In the face of intensifying strategic competition between the United States and China, most Southeast Asian states continue to prefer hedging strategies in an effort to maintain autonomy and flexibility. This involves deepening ties with both superpowers rather than siding with one or the other. Many studies have focused on why and how states hedge, but no scholarly analysis to date has considered why a state would abandon hedging even when it is not facing a direct security threat. While structural realist factors such as external security threats and economic rewards remain significant determinants for alignment decisions, this article demonstrates that internal threats can also compel states to abandon hedging in favour of bandwagoning. The article examines two case studies, Cambodia and Myanmar, to demonstrate how autocratic rulers in those two countries have stopped hedging and opted for closer alignment with Beijing in order to bolster regime security. In both cases, political leaders have prioritized personal interests and regime survival over national interests.

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