China in southeast asia: Can the region's small and medium powers manoeuvre the giant?

15 November 2012

There can be little doubt about "China's rise" in Southeast Asia which has already been the focus of a myriad of publications. However, a shortcoming of the existing literature is its bias towards either one of the two positions at the extreme ends of the spectrum: while some argue that China's relations with Southeast Asia provide manifold opportunities for the region, the other group proposes the emergence of China as a threat to a stable regional order. I argue that both factions miss the point: China's role in Southeast Asia is of a multi-dimensional nature and, as in the case of all small and medium powers that are forced to deal with the presence of a great power in their midst, the Southeast Asian nations have to negotiate and mediate China's presence. I will discuss three case studies: 1) the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area, which was first enthusiastically embraced by ASEAN for political reasons only for some members to find out that it hugely disadvantages them in their trade relations with China. 2) The conflicts in the South China Sea where the Southeast Asian claimants are carefully trying to balance a multilateral approach towards China (via ASEAN) with their specific national interests. 3) China's emergence as (seemingly) largest provider of Official development assistance (ODA) to Southeast Asia - replacing Japan - and its implications for Southeast Asia.

Prof. Joern Dosch is currently a Professor of International Relations and Deputy Head of School (Research) at Monash University, Sunway Campus, Malaysia. He had previously held the Chair in Asia Pacific Studies at the University of Leeds, UK, where he also headed the Department of East Asian Studies. Before joining Leeds he was a Fulbright Scholar at Stanford University and Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Mainz, Germany, where he had also completed his PhD on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1996. Dosch's research interests are centred on Southeast Asian politics and the region's international relations. He also frequently works as a consultant for the European Union, international organisations and transnatinal NGOs. He has published nearly 100 books and academic papers, including The Asia-Pacific, Regionalism and the Global System, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar 2012 (edited with C. Dent); The New Global Politics of the Asia-Pacific. 2nd revised edition, London and New York: Routledge 2011 (with M. Connors and R. Davison) and The Changing Dynamics of Southeast Asian Politics. Boulder and London: Lynne Rienner 2007.

Please note this event has reach its capacity.

Time: 5:30pm-6:30pm

Location: Room 310, China Studies Centre, Old Teachers' College, The University of Sydney

Cost: Free