Dr Liu Ruonan, Assistant Professor, School of International Relations, University of International Business and Economics, Beijing
Great power rivalry has a profound impact on the transformation of East Asian regional order as well as the strategic choices of small and medium-sized states in the region. However, the effects of great power competition on the strategies of Southeast Asian states are mixed and complex. Strategic flexibility, which determined by the severity of great power competition, is an essential dimension in their calculation. When great powers exercise inclusive competition in core areas and on sensitive issues, the strategic flexibility of the relevant Southeast Asia states will become ample and the hedging is more likely to be the choice. Instead, as great-power competition intensified, the degree of the strategic flexibility of regional states will be reduced and bandwagoning will appear.
After Asia Financial Crisis, US and China engaged in inclusive competition on a number of issues like South China Sea. Vietnam, Philippines and the other countries related to the dispute made use of strategic flexibility to hedge comfortably. However since US pivot/rebalancing to Asia, the competition became fierce and expanded to more issues. For Vietnam and Philippines, the costs and risks to maintain a hedging strategy increased, while countries like Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos has benefited from increasingly intensified competition, in the context of both US and China increased their attention to non-traditional security issues.
Dr Liu Ruonan is Assistant Professor at the School of International Relations, University of International Business and Economics, Beijing. She received PhD in political science at Tsinghua University in 2016. She has been visiting scholar at University of Groningen and the University of California, San Diego.
Her research mainly deals with international relations of Southeast Asia, with a special focus on the security strategies of the Southeast Asian States and China-ASEAN relations. She is currently involved in the research aiming to contribute to a better understanding of Southeast Asia states' response to regional power transition. Her work has been published in various journals, including The Pacific Review and The Chinese Journal of International Politics.
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