About the Seminar
As an insurance-seeking behavior aimed at mitigating multiple risks of uncertainties, hedging inevitably involves multiple means, some bilateral and some multilateral (including minilateral mechanisms). The “middle powers”, whose aspirations, anxieties, and abilities push them to acquire as many means as possible to mitigate risks and maximize benefits under uncertainties, are especially inclined to strengthening the bilateral-multilateral nexus and synergizing the multi-layered partnerships. The greater the uncertainties, the stronger the push for more purposeful bilateral-multilateral nexus involving old and new partners across the defence, diplomatic, and development domains. In an era of the Indo-Pacific, the three clusters of bilateral-multilateral nexuses are: (a) those among the US and its allies and partners; (b) the inter- and intra-spoke circles; and (c) those centered on the Southeast Asian states, either among the ASEAN members or between individual ASEAN states and their respective partner(s) in and out of Asia. This talk offers a preliminary assessment of the progress and prospect of this evolving phenomenon. Dr Cheng-Chwee Kuik will focus on how the nexuses across the three clusters have been unfolding in a converging, complementing, and counteracting manner (but in different patterns and at different paces); and why a combination of structural and domestic factors will continue to determine not only the relative convergence and divergence of the hedging acts of the middle states, but also the future of ASEAN centrality, ASEAN cohesion, as well as regional peace and prosperity in Asia.
About the Speaker
Kuik Cheng-Chwee is Professor of International Relations and Head of the Centre for Asian Studies, Institute of Malaysian and International Studies, National University of Malaysia (UKM). He is concurrently a non-resident Senior Fellow at Johns Hopkins University’s Foreign Policy Institute (FPI). Previously, he was a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Princeton-Harvard “China and the World” (CWP) Program and a Visiting Research Fellow at Oxford University. Professor Kuik’s research focuses on smaller-state foreign and defence policies, Asian security, and international relations. He serves as a member of the Consultative Council on Foreign Policy, Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Cheng-Chwee is a regular invited speaker to international conferences and closed-door policy roundtables. Cheng-Chwee’s publications have appeared in such peer-reviewed journals as International Affairs, Pacific Review, Journal of Contemporary China, Chinese Journal of International Politics, and Contemporary Southeast Asia. His essay, “The Essence of Hedging”, won the Michael Leifer Memorial Prize awarded by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. He is co-author (with David Lampton and Selina Ho) of Rivers of Iron: Railroads and Chinese Power in Southeast Asia (2020) and co-editor (with Alice Ba and Sueo Sudo) of Institutionalizing East Asia (2016). His current projects include: hedging in international relations, domestic politics and foreign policy choices, and the geopolitics of connectivity cooperation. Cheng-Chwee serves on the editorial boards of Contemporary Southeast Asia, Australian Journal of International Affairs, Asian Politics and Policy, International Journal of Asian Studies, and East Asian Policy. He holds an M.Litt. from the University of St. Andrews, and a PhD from the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. Cheng-Chwee can be contacted at [email protected].