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Research Report

ASEAN, China’s Rise and Geopolitical Stability in Asia

Fenna Egberink
with Frans-Paul van der Putten
Copyright Date: Apr. 1, 2011
Published by: Clingendael Institute
Pages: 64

Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. [i]-[iii])
  2. (pp. [iv]-[v])
  3. (pp. 1-6)

    The great powers in Asia are in the process of redefining their strategic positions towards each other. The most important factor underlying this process of adjustment is the rapid rise of China as a major international actor. China is exceeding the status of a regional power and moving in the direction of being a global power. The three other main powers in Asia – the United States, Japan and India – are searching for ways to respond to this development, as are China’s smaller neighbouring countries. Although there is no multilateral institution in place dealing directly with security issues in...

  4. (pp. 7-18)

    The political systems of the Southeast Asian countries range from new and transitional democracies to closed military regimes. Economically, the region comprises some of the most open and prosperous economies in the world, as well as some of the least economically developed. ASEAN’s creation did not bring an end to the multitude of intra-regional tensions, and its ability to speak with one voice has so far remained limited.19

    The Association of Southeast Asian Nations was established on 8 August 1967 with the signing of the ASEAN Declaration by Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia.20 The main rationale behind ASEAN’s...

  5. (pp. 19-28)

    As the emerging power in East Asia, China is the main driver behind the geopolitical reconfiguration that is taking place. Southeast Asia is one of the areas that is affected most directly by the rise of China.61 Furthermore, interaction between China and ASEAN ‘will, to a great extent, affect the future and prospects of the entire [Asian] region’.62 Given the importance of China for Asia in general and for Southeast Asia in particular, ASEAN’s relationship with China is crucial for its regional standing.

    According to Alice Ba, ‘[i]n East Asia, few relationships have evolved as much as that between China...

  6. (pp. 29-42)

    Since the 1950s, relations between the United States and Southeast Asia have revolved predominantly around security issues. The sub-region occupied a central role in the Cold War, with its strategic sea lanes (the Strait of Malacca and South China Sea in particular) as well as its vicinity near China. As a result, the United States has long served as (non-communist) Southeast Asia’s security guarantor.106 The end of the Cold War, however, led to a change in regional dynamics. In the early 1990s, the communist threat was no longer of importance and the United States was reconsidering its overseas military deployments.107...

  7. (pp. 43-46)

    In order to strengthen stability in the broader region – and at the same time to guarantee the continued relevance of ASEAN – the Southeast Asians have created several frameworks for regional cooperation, thereby serving as a ‘catalyst of Asian regionalism’.172 By getting regional partners around the table and promoting the use of diplomacy as opposed to force, ASEAN has contributed to more stable regional dynamics, especially in the case of the Sino-Japanese relationship.173 At the most basic level, ASEAN’s mere existence has been an important factor, in the sense that it has allowed the Southeast Asian countries to act...

  8. (pp. 47-56)
  9. (pp. 57-58)