Individual Submission Summary

Direct link:

ASEAN's Institutional Response toward Power Shift: Balancing, Hedging, and Institutional Change

Sun, June 26, 10:30am to 12:20pm, Shikokan (SK), Floor: 1F, 114


East Asia currently faces an on-going strategic shift due to the rise of China, and two major regional security mechanisms, the US-led alliance system and the ASEAN-led security multilateralism, have also responded to this shift. Significantly less is known about ASEAN-led institutions’ response to this power shift. Given ASEAN’s existing leading role in East Asian security multilateralism, clarifying its institutional response is important in understanding East Asian security dynamics. However, the existing literature does not well capture this ASEAN’s behavior. This is mainly because the literature often considers that ASEAN and its affiliated institutions as a monolithic entity and regards their responses as if they were the same institution, thereby categorizing their behavior as “soft balancing,” “institutional balancing,” “hedging,” or “engagement” without in-depth investigation. The omission of this differentiation often leads to oversimplification and misunderstanding of ASEAN’s response. Therefore, it is important to examine each institution’s response carefully, clarify its division of labor, and understand its institutional change, if any, so that we can grasp ASEAN’s strategic behavior in a more nuanced way.
To this end, this paper employs the agent-centered historical institutionalism to explain how the major security institutions of ASEAN, namely the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting (ADMM), and the East Asia Summit (EAS), have responded to the rise of China from 1990 to 2015 in conjunction with their institutional changes.