Security in South East Asia: How Are South East Asian Countries Ensuring Their Security in an Uncertain Asian Security Environment Due to the Rise of China as a Regional and Global Power?
The countries of Malaysia, Viet Nam and Indonesia are using a hedging strategy to ensure their security. The Philippines is pursuing a dual policy of hedging and balancing with the US. Singapore is following a policy of hedging but is verging on bandwagoning with the US. All countries are leveraging off ASEAN and its associated fora as their first line of defence. While ASEAN and its fora are adequate for dialogue they are not effective in solving disputes among ASEAN countries or between ASEAN countries and China. The uncertain military rise of China and territorial and maritime disputes with China are causing South East Asian countries to feel insecure. While China professes a policy of “Peaceful Development” its actions in 2009 and 2010 indicated a more aggressive approach to its claims over the entire South China Sea that it now states is an area of “core Interest” to China along with Taiwan. South East Asian countries are expanding or have plans to expand their defence force capability. The US is considered an important actor in guaranteeing South East Asian security and keeping China’s territorial ambitions in check in the immediate future. The countries of Malaysia, Viet Nam, Indonesia, Philippines and Singapore are developing strong economic links with China but are keeping their military links at arms length while forging closer defence links with the US.