The Impacts of the Belt and Road Initiative and the South China Sea Dispute on the Hedging Strategies of the Philippines and Vietnam Towards China | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online


Hedging is an attractive strategy for governments, especially in Southeast Asia, as well as a popular academic lens for analyzing the foreign policy strategies of small and middle powers. The Philippines and Vietnam are among the countries which apply a hedging strategy towards the rising China. Both countries seek gains from their close political-diplomatic and economic engagement with Beijing, conducted both bilaterally and multilaterally via the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. At the same time, they follow omnidirectional political-diplomatic, economic and security relations to insure themselves from negative impacts stemming from their relations with China. Despite these fundamental similarities, the hedging strategies of the Philippines and Vietnam also vary considerably: Hanoi’s hedging strategy has been in the last decade very consistent and much more robust due to strong China-critical perceptions of the leadership, whereas Manila responded under the initially China-friendly President Duterte in a less planned, more ad hoc manner to Beijing’s policies and actions. Since mid-2019, though, the Philippines apply more confrontational measures towards China. This was a reaction to the lower than expected returns from the collaboration under the frame of the Belt and Road Initiative and China’s assertive behaviour in the South China Sea. However, neither the more confrontational Vietnamese policies nor the initially more cooperative Philippine policies resulted in an improvement of the security in the South China Sea.


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