ASEAN in the Era of Japan-China Tensions: Diplomatic Opportunities or Strategic Dilemmas?

  • Takeshi Yuzawa


This chapter poses two questions: Why has the risk of ASEAN’s disunity become more significant in recent years? What are the implications of growing strategic tensions between Japan and China for ASEAN? In order to address these questions, this chapter attempts to illuminate the nature, the causes, and the effects of the regional power struggle between Japan and China. The first section of this chapter looks at the major causes of bilateral friction that has greatly influenced the geopolitics of Southeast Asia; these include differing views on the legitimacy of the US presence, competition for economic and political supremacy in East Asia, and rising tensions over the South China Sea disputes. The second section explores new trends in Japanese and Chinese approaches to ASEAN. It argues that with mounting strategic tensions, both Japan and China have increasingly expended their energy on a counterbalancing approach to Southeast Asia, most notably strengthening strategic partnerships with specific ASEAN countries and promoting minilateral cooperation based on an ASEAN+1 framework. The third section then assesses opportunities and dilemmas for ASEAN arising from the new power game between Japan and China. It contends that while ASEAN states have still enjoyed enormous material benefits arising from their competition, it has increasingly worked against the credibility of ASEAN and ASEAN-centered institutions, rather than contributing to the overall maintenance of its diplomatic centrality.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Takeshi Yuzawa
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Global and Interdisciplinary Studies (GIS)Hosei UniversityTokyoJapan

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