‘Coopetition’ and Risk Tolerance in the South China Sea: Indonesia and Malaysia’s Middle Power Strategies

  • Bruno HellendorffEmail author
Part of the Global Power Shift book series (GLOBAL)


Is conflict in the South China Sea inevitable? Structural conditions may point that way, as many authors have hinted. Others have pointed at two major impediments to conflict: the socialization process led by ASEAN; and a greater-than-ever interdependence among regional countries. This article tests these two conventional arguments by considering the collective and individual choices of ASEAN states. It resorts to rational choice institutionalism and middle power theory to model the environment in which ASEAN states operate strategically and considers Indonesia and Malaysia as case studies. The finding is that Indonesia and Malaysia, as regional middle powers, are more risk-tolerant than usually assumed vis-à-vis the rise of China and its repercussions in the South China Sea.


Coopetition Indonesia Malaysia Middle power South China Sea ASEAN 


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Group for Research and Information on Peace and SecurityBrusselsBelgium

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