Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

Prospects for the formation of a pluralistic security community between China and ASEAN

By Alberto Camarena Perez


Since the end of the Cold War, deep transformations in East Asia have begun to restructure the political, economic and security landscape of the region. Many of these transformations have been of a positive nature, in the sense that East Asian states are now interacting with each other with the purpose of enhancing their economic performance and regional politico-security stability. One such positive regional change has been the potential for a new phase of peaceful relations between China and the Southeast Asian nations (frequently referred to in this research as the "ASEAN states"), which until relatively recently remained hostile and marred by mutual suspicion. Thus, this research explores Sino-ASEAN relations from the perspective of the possibility of fostering a durable and reliable peace between these actors.\ud \ud The research begins by discussing the relevance of China, ASEAN and the region of East Asia, or in other words: why do these actors matter at the regional and global level? In tandem with the latter, the research also discusses the concept of security communities, which is the central\ud concept permeating the whole work. An introductory note on Karl Deutsch (father of the security community concept) and the nature of war and conflict is also present. The literature review examines what has been produced to date on the topics of security communities and East Asia, China and ASEAN; which mainly encapsulates the broad areas of East Asian regionalism, Chinese foreign policy, constructivist theory and more direct relations between China and Southeast Asia. The analytical framework and methodology are also discussed. Security communities are explained in detail (e.g. types, genesis and demise) so as the framework for the study of the formation of security communities, developed by the scholar Emanuel Adler and\ud Michael Barnett; and which is also central to the argument of this thesis. Moreover, a comprehensive discussion ensues about the role of the main international relations theories (i.e. realism, liberalism and social constructivism) affecting the conceptualisation of security communities, as each affects the later in profound and particulars ways. The role of political elites and the units of analysis are explained as part of clarifying the methodology.\ud \ud The research then divides into three main areas: China's approach to Southeast Asia (mainly expressed in China's foreign policy towards the region), ASEAN's approach to China (mainly expressed by the Association's declaratory policy towards China and the creation or regional\ud frameworks), and another section focusing on how each individual ASEAN states have perceived and approached China throughout the decades after the end of the Second World War. The latter covers politico-economic interactions and their relevance (which aim to stress the level of "transactions" between both actors) and how Southeast Asia's political elites have perceived China. Finally, conclusions are presented and the empirical data weighted against the theoretical framework.\ud \ud The methodology of the research consists in confronting empirical data with the different tiers and sub-categories of Alder and Barnett's framework for the study of the formation of security communities. Adler and Barnett have created a "roadmap" to the formation of security communities. They have organised a succinct, clear and useful means to help political scientists to explore the possibilities of the evolution of security communities between states. Adler and Barnett's framework divides into an initial stage of creation (i.e. precipitating conditions), a process and a structural category in which elements such as power, social learning, international\ud organisations and transactions interact in such a way that have the potential to create a final stage in which mutual trust and a common identity might have begun to operate between the actors.\ud \ud Thus, the research compares the available data between China and the ASEAN states (e.g. transactions, perceptions, regional frameworks, roles of power, etc) against Adler and\ud Barnett's framework. The findings are revealing. Following the framework, there are strong indications of an evolving security community (of a pluralistic type) between China and\ud ASEAN, particularly in some sub-categories. Though it is not possible to affirm the existence of a fully-fledged security community between them, strong elements are still evolving and because of the latter, new questions arise which provide with more interesting projections not\ud the future (e.g. is there the possibility of seen the evolution of a particular set of ideas between both actors?). The research sets clear too that, a new angle to the study of Sino-ASEAN relations can be followed, with the possibility of enriching and novel results

Publisher: East Asian Studies (Leeds)
Year: 2009
OAI identifier:

Suggested articles


  1. (1996). A Modern History of Southeast Asia: Decolonization, Nationalism and Separatism (London: Tauris Academic Studies) Cohen, Warren I.
  2. (2000). ASEAN and the Asian Crisis: Theoretical Implications and Practical Consequences for Southeast Asian Regionalism', The Pacific Review 13:3,
  3. (2007). ASEAN at 40: Mid-Life Rejuvenation?' ,foreignaffairs. org,
  4. (2008). ASEAN's Political and Security Development and Singapore-China Relations', paper presented at the Third China-Singapore Forum, 17-18 April, Singapore Khaw, Guat HOOD
  5. (2001). ASEAN's Role in the Chinese Foreign Policy Framework'
  6. (1981). China's Foreign Aid in 1979-80
  7. China's Foreign Policy toward Burma and Thailand (Ann Arbor: University Microfilms International) Charrier,
  8. (1995). China's Future Economic Regionalization'
  9. (2006). China's Rise: Implications for U.S. Leadership in Asia'
  10. (1998). Europe, East Asia and APEC: A Shared Global Agenda? (Cambridge:
  11. (1987). In Search of Southeast Asia: A Modern History (Honolulu:
  12. (2003). Research Organisations after the 16th Party Congress' in Civil-Military Change m CIUlla: Elrles, Institutes and Ideas after the 16th Party Congress, edited by Andrew Scobell and Larry Wortzel (Washington:
  13. (1983). Structures m VIetnam, DIscussion Paper no.14, German Development Institute, 14 February. onn Doy~e, Michael W.
  14. (2003). Th I d d th Ph'l' . , m n onesla al an ~n e I Ippmes ,Sudostasien Aktue1l25:3,
  15. (2008). The Impact of China on
  16. (2004). The Political Economy of Mahathir's China Policy: Econ~m IC Coop~ratlOn. Political and Strategic Ambivalence', Ritsumeikan Annual Review.
  17. (1984). The Sino-Vietnamese Conflict (New York: Praeger) 289 Lee, I?en~-Ke~
  18. (1998). The South China Sea in China's Strategic Thinking',
  19. (2000). Theorising the Rise of Regionness', Nell'
  20. (1980). Yenan and the Great Powers: The Origins o/Chinese Communist Foreign Pohcy 1944-1946

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.