ASEAN’s Evolving Alignment Strategy in the South China Sea: Between Middle and Major Power Dynamics
Heylyung Yun and Mats Engman
ASEAN is a region of vital strategic importance where the United States’ Indo-Pacific strategy and China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) collide. To avert geopolitical uncertainty and to avoid being pulled into full-fledged conflicts between major powers, the ASEAN states have employed a ‘hedging strategy’ by combining elements of bandwagoning and balancing. However, such a middle-positioning or ambiguous strategy is now challenged as geopolitical tension rises in the South China Sea. The future order of this region will depend on strategic choices and the relative power positions of the ASEAN nations and their agreed modes of conflict and cooperation. This Focus Asia paper focuses on capturing the evolving hedging strategy of the ASEAN states in the South China Sea and its regional implications.
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