How and why do smaller states respond to big power-backed infrastructure connectivity cooperation differently from each other? This special issue addresses these questions by focusing on Southeast Asian states’ responses to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). There are variations across the responses. While some have engaged the BRI enthusiastically (Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore), others have reacted more cautiously (Indonesia, Thailand) or have kept their distance (Vietnam, Philippines under Benigno Aquino III, Myanmar under Thein Sein). Several have shifted positions—in both directions—under different leaderships (e.g., Philippines under Rodrigo Duterte, Myanmar under Aung San Suu Kyi, and, to some extent, Malaysia under the second Mahathir Mohamad administration). Adopting an asymmetry-authority (AA) framework, this project examines how the structural effects of external power asymmetry are filtered through the ruling elites’ internal authority necessity, leading to varying patterns of small state responses across countries and across time.
Special Issue (Guest Editor): “Southeast Asian Responses to China’s Belt and Road Initiative”, in Asian Perspective (Johns Hopkins University Press), Vol. 45, No. 2 (Spring 2021). https://muse.jhu.edu/issue/44263
“Asymmetry and Authority: Theorizing Southeast Asian Responses to China’s Belt and Road Initiative”, Asian Perspective, Vol. 45, No. 2, pp. 255-276.
“Malaysia’s Fluctuating Engagement with China’s Belt and Road Initiative: Leveraging Asymmetry, Legitimizing Authority”, Asian Perspective, Vol. 45, No. 2, pp. 421-444.