Implications of Sino-American Strategic Competition on Southeast Asia's Post-Cold War Regional Order   [open pdf - 1MB]

"Southeast Asia is a maritime crossroad and an arena of strategic great power interaction. The study of international politics after the Cold War has rediscovered the importance of regional interaction as the framework for understanding countries' security strategies and the great powers' impact on specific regions. A review of various theories, furthermore, reveals the revival of geopolitics in theoretical constructions and policy formulations. This thesis reviews United States-China relations as the independent variable. The U.S. grand strategy has been consistent since the first Bush administration, namely to prevent the rise of a peer competitor. The American instruments in pursuit of its strategy are derived from its nature as a maritime power. China is a continental power that is recently expanding seaward and reemerging as East Asia's indispensable power. China's success in promoting its vision of order in maritime Southeast Asia will potentially undermine America's influence. Southeast Asia's regional order, the dependent variable, is dynamic when viewed from its two dimensions: time and space. Time refers to historical cycles, while space refers to the diverse views in dealing with the major powers, i.e., regional autonomy, a balance of engagement among the great powers and, since the 1990s, stronger engagement only with Northeast Asia. This thesis argues that regional identity is the primary driver of Southeast Asia's strategy for regional order."

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