The Emerging Security Landscape in the Asia-Pacific: Where ASEAN Fits Between the United States and China

  • Xiaoming Huang


The security landscape in the Asia-Pacific has seen a visible change in the past few years. There has been a momentum in the post-Cold War Asia-Pacific that a new security order, one that pursues common security through multilateral cooperation with ASEAN playing a central role, shall prevail in the region. The US pivot to Asia has significantly complicated this process. At the core of the US pivot is the fact that Washington shares its regional security responsibilities with its key allies and partners in the region. Potentially having a similar complicating effect is a shift in China’s posture towards a more traditional realpolitik approach to security issues in the region. These shifts have limited the space for ASEAN to be an effective player and weakened the basis for ASEAN-centred multilateral processes and platforms. The chapter makes an argument that much of the shift is part of the transformation of the global power structure, which sets the parameters on the security dynamics and relations in the Asia-Pacific. There is a real challenge for ASEAN to be relevant and effective in international security in the Asia-Pacific.


  1. Aberg, J.H.S., and N.W. Novak. 2014. The Risks of Asia-Pacific Multilateralism. The Diplomat. Available at: Accessed 20 Sept 2016.
  2. Acharya, A. 1995. A Regional Security Community in Southeast Asia? Journal of Strategic Studies 18 (3): 175–200.Google Scholar
  3. ———. 1999. A Concert of Asia? Survival 41 (3): 84–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. ———. 2001. Constructing a Security Community in Southeast Asia: ASEAN and the Problem of Regional Order. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. ———. 2002. Constructing a Security Community in Southeast Asia. In Routledge, 2001; Regionalism and Multilateralism: Essays on Cooperative Security in the Asia-Pacific. Singapore: Times Academic Press.Google Scholar
  6. ———. 2005. Why Is There No NATO in Asia?: The Normative Oigins of Asian Multilateralism. Cambridge, MA: Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University.Google Scholar
  7. Acharya, A., and S.S. Tan. 2005. Betwixt Balance and Community: America, ASEAN, and the Security of Southeast Asia. International Relations of the Asia-Pacific 5 (2): 37–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Alagappa, M. 2003. Asian Security Order: Instrumental and Normative Features. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Buchan, B. 2002. Explaining War and Peace: Kant and Liberal IR Theory. Alternatives: Global, Local, Political 27 (4): 407–428.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Campbell, K., and B. Andrews. 2013. Explaining the US ‘Pivot’ to Asia | Chatham House – 2013. Explaining the US ‘pivot’ to Asia. Available at: Accessed 19 Sept 2016.
  11. Cha, V.D. 2010. Powerplay: Origins of the U.S. Alliance System in Asia. International Security 34 (3): 158–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. ———. 2011. Complex Patchworks: U.S. Alliances as Part of Asia’s Regional Architecture. Asia Policy 11 (1): 27–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Chen, R. 2013. A Critical Analysis of the U.S. “Pivot” Toward the Asia-Pacific: How Realistic is Neo-realism? Connections: The Quarterly Journal 12 (3): 39–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cohen, D. 2014. A Clash of Security Concepts: China’s Effort to Redefine Security. China Briefs 14 (11): 1–18.Google Scholar
  15. Cronin, P.M., and C. Zhou. 2014. US and China’s Dueling Visions of ASEAN. US and China’s Dueling Visions of ASEAN. Available at: Accessed 20 Sept 2016.
  16. Dent, C.M. 2008. China, Japan and regional leadership in East Asia. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Doyle, M.W. 1983. Kant, Liberal Legacies, and Foreign Affairs. Philosophy and Public Affairs 12 (3): 205–235.Google Scholar
  18. Economy, E.C., T. Huxley, M. Fullilove, and S.A. Smith. 2013. What Happened to the Asia Pivot in 2013? Council on Foreign Relations. Available at: Accessed 20 Sept 2016.
  19. Gill, B. 2004. China’s New Security Multilateralism and Its Implications for the Asia–Pacific Region. Stockholm: SIPRI Yerabook.Google Scholar
  20. Glaser, B.S. 2012. Pivot to Asia: Prepare for Unintended Consequences. Washington, DC: CSIS, 2012 Global Forecast.Google Scholar
  21. Goldstein, A. 2003. China’s Emerging Grand Strategy: A Neo-Bismarckian Turn? In International Relations Theory and the Asia-Pacific, ed. J.G. Ikenberry and M. Mastanduno, 57–106. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  22. He, K., and H. Feng. 2011. Why is There no NATO in Asia? Revisited: Prospect Theory, Balance of Threat, and US Alliance Strategies. European Journal of International Relations 18 (2): 227–250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hegre, H., J.R. Oneal, and B. Russett. 2010. Trade Does Promote Peace: New Simultaneous Estimates of the Reciprocal Effects of Trade and Conflict. Journal of Peace Research 47 (6): 763–774.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hemmer, C., and P.J. Katzenstein. 2002. Why is There No NATO in Asia? Collective Identity, Regionalism, and the Origins of Multilateralism. International Organization 56 (3): 575–607.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Ikenberry, G.J., and J. Tsuchiyama. 2002. Between Balance of Power and Community: The Future of Multilateral Security Co-operation in the Asia-Pacific. International Relations of the Asia-Pacific 2 (1): 69–94.Google Scholar
  26. ———. 2004. American Hegemony and East Asian Order. Australian Journal of International Affairs 58 (3): 353–367.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Johnston, A.I. 2003. Socialization in International Institutions: The ASEAN Way and International Relations Theory. In International Relations Theory and the Asia-Pacific, ed. J.G. Ikenberry and M. Mastanduno. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Kim, B.K. 2005. Between China, America, and North Korea: South Korea’s Hedging. In China’s Ascent: Power, Security, and the Future of International Politics, ed. R.S. Ross and F. Zhu, 191–217. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Lieberthal, K. 2014. Pivot, Rebalance, or Reinvigorate? Words Matter in U.S. Strategy Toward Asia. [audio blog] Brookings Now. Available at: Accessed 20 Sept 2016.
  30. Logan, J. 2013. China, America, and the Pivot to Asia, Policy Analysis, No 717. Washington, DC: Cato Institute.Google Scholar
  31. Narine, S. 2002. Explaining ASEAN: Regionalism in Southeast Asia. Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers.Google Scholar
  32. Ott, M., and K.M. Ngo. 2014. Emergent US Security Strategy in Southeast Asia, Asia Pacific Bulletin No.248. Honolulu: East West Centre.Google Scholar
  33. Pastreich, E. 2005. The Balancer: Roh Moo-hyun’s Vision of Korean Politics and the Future of Northeast Asia. The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus 3(8). Available at:
  34. Ravenal, E.C. 1971. The Nixon Doctrine and Our Asian Commitments. Foreign Affairs 49 (2): 201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Ross, R.S. 2012. The Problem With the Pivot: Obama’s New Asia Policy Is Unnecessary and Counterproductive. Foreign Affairs. Available at:
  36. Thayer, C.A. 2003. China’s New Security Concept and Southeast Asia. In Asia-Pacific Security: Policy Challenges, ed. D.W. Lovell, 89–107. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.Google Scholar
  37. Tiezzi, S. 2014. At CICA, Xi Calls for New Regional Security Architecture. The Diplomat. Available at: Accessed 20 Sept 2016.
  38. Wang, H. 2000. Multilateralism in Chinese Foreign Policy: The Limits of Socialization. Asian Survey 40 (3): 475–491.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Wong, L.F. 2007. China ASEAN and Japan ASEAN Relations During the Post-Cold War Era. The Chinese Journal of International Politics 1 (3): 373–404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Wu, G. 2007. China Turns to Multilateralism: Foreign Policy and Regional Security. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  41. Wuthnow, J., X. Li, and L. Qi. 2012. Diverse Multilateralism: Four Strategies in China’s Multilateral Diplomacy. Journal of Chinese Political Science 17 (3): 269–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Zakaria, F. 2009. The post-American World: And the Rise of the Rest. London: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  43. Zhao, X. 2012. Time to Rethink the Role of US Asia-Pacific Alliances. CHINA US Focus. Available at: Accessed 20 Sept 2016.
  44. Zhao, S. 2013. Core Interests and Great Power Responsibilities: The Evolving Pattern of China’s Foreign Policy. In China and the International System Becoming a World Power, ed. X. Huang and R.G. Patman, 32–56. New York, Routledge.Google Scholar
  45. Zhu, F. 2012. US Pivot to the Asia-Pacific and Its Impact on Regional Security. The Tokyo Foundation. Available at: Accessed 20 Sept 2016.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiaoming Huang
    • 1
  1. 1.Victoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations