ASEAN'S Strategic Approach Towards Security Relations with the U.S. and China: Hedging through a Common Foreign and Security Policy
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLLEGE FORT LEAVENWORTH KS
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ASEAN is at a crossroads. It faces an ascendant China whose economic prowess has given it the wherewithal for increasing assertiveness in regional geopolitics. At the same time, ASEAN has to contend with a U.S. seeking to rebalance and preserve its status as a Pacific power. As Sino-American rivalry takes center stage in Asia, the question arises as to where ASEANs destiny lies. This thesis argues that ASEAN should neither aim to simply leverage the U.S. as a countervailing force against China, nor accept Chinese hegemony as a fait accompli and align itself with Beijing. Doing so forces it to take sides, and could undermine ASEANs strategic goal of playing a leading role in regional security cooperation. This thesis advocates instead a hedging strategy, where ASEAN hinges on the U.S. to minimize the security risks posed by an aggressive China, while simultaneously maximizing the benefits that could be reaped from a closer China-ASEAN relationship. To hedge effectively, ASEAN has to stay neutral and united, and engender a level of intramural transparency. It should also pursue stronger institutionalism in the form of a common foreign and security policy that would give it a more credible and coherent voice on the international stage.
- Government and Political Science