Achieving a ‘Delicate Equilibrium:’ Are Southeast Asia’s Maritime States Indonesia and the Philippines Hedging China?
One of the prescient questions within international relations today concerns the rise of China and what strategies states should deploy in response. This is particularly pertinent in the Asia Pacific neighbourhood. Southeast Asian states especially face a perennial challenge: how to balance economic and security interests between China and the US. This thesis examines the concept of hedging as a means of understanding the strategic choices adopted by the Indonesia and the Philippines in response to rising Chinese hegemony in Asia. This thesis applies the innovative hedging model developed by Kuik to determine if Indonesia and the Philippines are hedging China and, if so, what strategies Jakarta and Manila have adopted. The application of Kuik’s model to the foreign policy strategies and behaviours of Indonesia and the Philippines has been a useful approach to determine whether these two cases are hedging China and to what degree. This thesis concludes that Indonesia and the Philippines have adopted hedging strategies comprised of micro options which are not static but fluid and dynamic. This study further demonstrates that understanding the drivers and behaviour of key Southeast Asian states and the degrees to which they are rejecting or accepting power is critical.