China-ASEAN Relations and the South China Sea: Beyond Balancing and Bandwagoning?

  • Elisa I. HörhagerEmail author
Part of the Global Power Shift book series (GLOBAL)


As China’s rise has provoked shifts in the structure of the international system, no states have felt this as directly as the Southeast Asian nations. The different approaches used in past analyses of China’s rise and its relationship with ASEAN have led to widely different interpretations. This is due to the differing views on how states behave in the face of change in the international system. The complex reality of international relations surrounding the South China Sea as well as the largely differing interpretations of China-ASEAN relations in scholarly literature necessitate an open approach taking into account multiple existing paradigms. This chapter employs analytical eclecticism in order to comprehensively assess China’s behavior towards ASEAN and the extent to which the ASEAN framework has been able to divert traditional balance of power dynamics and alliance formation in the face of this rising power. In a final section, their relationship is put into the context of the South China Sea dispute and the most recent developments in that area. This reflects back on the explanatory value of different international relations paradigms and serves to clarify the assumption that if ASEAN cannot manage to find a multilateral solution in the South China Sea, this might mean that realism and hard power trumps after all and that China’s true revisionist nature is revealed.


China ASEAN relations China Southeast Asia relations South China Sea Analytical eclecticism 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Goethe University FrankfurtFrankfurt am MainGermany

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