Waiting for Hard Balancing?

Explaining Southeast Asia’s Balancing Behaviour towards China

in European Journal of East Asian Studies

The continuity of stable peace in East Asia, especially Southeast Asia, since the end of the Cold War raises one major question: why is there no apparent balancing behaviour against China, the emerging great power in East Asia? In response to this question, exceptionalists argue that there will be no balancing behaviour against China from Southeast Asian states, while soft balancing theorists argue that the balancing behaviour has already occurred in the form of institutional balancing. This article refutes those arguments and maintains that balancing behaviour is not yet apparent in Southeast Asian balancing, yet it exists in an indirect form. In order to make this argument, this article examines the recent military build-up among Southeast Asian states as well as recent assessments of the ineffectiveness of the Southeast Asian regional security framework. The article also further analyses the conditions under which Southeast Asia’s indirect balancing might turn into hard balancing.

  • 1

    Kenneth N. Waltz‘Structural realism after the Cold War’International SecurityVol. 25 No. 1 (2000) pp. 5–41.

  • 2

    Aaron L. Friedberg‘Ripe for rivalry: prospects for peace in a multipolar Asia’International SecurityVol. 18 No. 3 (1993) pp. 5–33.

  • 3

    John J. Mearsheimer‘The future of the American pacifier’Foreign Affairs—New YorkVol. 80 No. 5 (2001) pp. 46–61.

  • 4

    John MearsheimerThe Tragedy of Great Power Politics (New York: W.W. Norton2001).

  • 5

    David C. Kang‘Getting Asia wrong: the need for new analytical frameworks’International SecurityVol. 27 No. 4 (2003) pp. 57–85.

  • 7

    Kai He‘Institutional balancing and international relations theory: economic interdependence and balance of power strategies in Southeast Asia’European Journal of International RelationsVol. 14 No. 3 (2008) pp. 489–518.

    • Rechercher Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 8

    Evelyn Goh‘Great powers and hierarchical order in Southeast Asia: analyzing regional security strategies’International SecurityVol. 32 No. 3 (2007) pp. 113–157.

    • Rechercher Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 10

    Waltz‘Structural realism after the Cold War’ p. 27.

  • 11

    Fareed Zakaria‘America’s new balancing act’Newsweek (6 August 2001) p. 11.

  • 15

    See Feng Zhang‘The rise of Chinese exceptionalism in international relations’European Journal of International RelationsVol. 19 No. 2 (2013) pp. 305–328.

    • Rechercher Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 16

    David C. KangChina Rising: Peace Power and Order in East Asia (New York: Columbia University Press2010) p. 200.

  • 18

    Christopher Layne‘The unipolar illusion revisited: the coming end of the United States’ unipolar moment’International SecurityVol. 31 No. 2 (2006) pp. 7–41 p. 13.

    • Rechercher Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 19

    Stephen M. Walt‘Alliance formation and the balance of world power’International SecurityVol. 9 No. 4 (1985) pp. 3–43 p. 26.

  • 20

    Sean Chen and John Feffer‘China’s military spending: soft rise or hard threat?’ Asian PerspectiveVol. 33 No. 4 (2009) pp. 47–67.

  • 22

    KangChina Rising p. 208.

  • 31

    He‘Institutional balancing and international relations theory’ p. 503.

  • 33

    Keir A. Lieber and Gerard Alexander‘Waiting for balancing: why the world is not pushing back’International SecurityVol. 30 No. 1 (2005) pp. 109–139 p. 131.

    • Rechercher Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 38

    Prashanth Parameswaran‘Cambodia wants China warships: navy commander’The Diplomat (2016): http://thediplomat.com/2016/02/cambodia-wants-china-warships-navy-commander/.

    • Rechercher Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 39

    Cheunboran Chanborey‘Cambodia’s strategic China alignment’The Diplomat (2015) http://thediplomat.com/2015/07/cambodias-strategic-china-alignment/.

    • Rechercher Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 45

    Timothy Williams‘Balancing acts in South-East Asia and President Obama’s trip’Resurgence of Russia and China Programme (London: Institute of Islamic Strategic and Socio-Political Affairs 2014).

    • Rechercher Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 49

    Renato Cruz De Castro‘Linking spokes together: the Philippines’ gambit of harnessing the United States’ alliances in its external balancing policy against an emergent China’Pacific FocusVol. 29 No. 1 (2014) pp. 140–166.

    • Rechercher Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 52

    Khoo How San‘The Five Power Defence Arrangements: if it ain’t broke …’Pointer: Quarterly Journal of the Singapore Armed ForcesVol. 26 No. 4 (2000).

    • Rechercher Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 53

    Felix K. Chang‘A question of rebalancing: Malaysia’s relations with China’Foreign Policy Research Institute E-Notes (2014): http://www.fpri.org/article/2014/07/a-question-of-rebalancing-malaysias-relations-with-china/.

    • Rechercher Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 54

    Shang-su Wu‘Is Vietnam in denial on military strategy?’ The Diplomat (2014): http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2014/10/30/is-vietnam-in-denial-in-military-strategy/.

    • Rechercher Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 56

    Kuik Cheng-Chwee‘The essence of hedging: Malaysia and Singapore’s response to a rising China’Contemporary Southeast Asia: A Journal of International and Strategic AffairsVol. 30 No. 2 (2008) pp. 159–185.

    • Rechercher Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 57

    V. Jackson‘Power, trust, and network complexity: three logics of hedging in Asian security’International Relations of the Asia-PacificVol. 14 No. 3 (2014) pp. 331–356.

    • Rechercher Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 58

    Cheng-Chwee‘The essence of hedging’ p. 166.

  • 59

    Stephen M. WaltThe Origins of Alliance (New York: Cornell University Press1990) p. 18.

  • 60

    WaltThe Origins of Alliance p. 22.

  • 64

    M. Taylor Fravel‘Regime insecurity and international cooperation—explaining China’s compromises in territorial disputes’International SecurityVol. 30 No. 2 (2005) pp. 46–83 p. 76.

    • Rechercher Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 65

    Fravel‘Regime insecurity’ pp. 55–57.

  • 66

    Rommel C. Banlaoi‘Southeast Asian perspectives on the rise of China: regional security after 9/11’ParametersVol. 33 No. 2 (2003) pp. 98–107 p. 98; Bruce Vaughn and Wayne M. Morrison ‘China–Southeast Asia relations: trends issues and implications for the United States’ CRS Report for Congress (2006): https://fas.org/sgp/crs/row/RL32688.pdf.

    • Rechercher Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 70

    M. Yahuda‘China’s new assertiveness in the South China Sea’Journal of Contemporary ChinaVol. 22 No. 81 (2013) pp. 446–447.

  • 71

    Robert D. Kaplan‘The geography of Chinese power’Foreign AffairsVol. 89 No. 3 (2010).

  • 73

    Zachary Keck‘China’s building second aircraft carrier’The Diplomat (10 March 2015).

  • 77

    Tetsuo Kotani‘Lifeline at sea: Japan’s policy toward the Indian Ocean region’Journal of the Indian Ocean RegionVol. 7 No. 2 (2011) pp. 220–234.

    • Rechercher Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 80

    Mohd Aminul Karim‘The South China Sea disputes: is high politics overtaking?’ Pacific FocusVol. 28 No. 1 (2013) pp. 99–119.

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 145 112 13
Full Text Views 182 174 0
PDF Downloads 17 15 0