The Multilateralism and Regionalism Programme, Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies (IDSS), S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), hosted a roundtable on 24 September 2014 examining the impact of the Sino-Japanese competitive relationship on Southeast Asia/Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as a region and institution. There were two main reasons for pursuing this topic.
First, the Sino-Japanese relationship has incrementally become more competitive since the onset of the post-Cold War period. It peaked during the 2010-2013 period following the fishing trawler incident in September 2010 and subsequently Japan’s nationalisation of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. These incidents caused a serious deterioration in most, if not all, areas of bilateral relations. Both countries view each other as threats to each other and to the regional environment. The responses from both China and Japan have been to strengthen economic, military and diplomatic strategies. The competition is visible in several areas—military rivalry, territorial disputes, East Asian multilateralism, historical legacy and diplomatic strategies.
Second, both countries have also strengthened their relations with the ASEAN institution and its member states in economic, political and military terms. However, there is very little work done on ASEAN’s response to the rising competition between Japan and China. The works out there have largely focused on the impact of the Sino-U.S. relationship on ASEAN, the Sino-Japanese relationship itself, ASEAN’s response to China’s rise, and ASEAN’s relations with Japan.
The questions we posed at the roundtable were: what is the impact of the Sino-Japanese competition on Southeast Asia/ASEAN?; and how is Southeast Asia/ASEAN coping with the rising tensions from the emerging Sino-Japanese competitive relationship? The articles in this policy report are penned by the presenters at the roundtable. The report examines the impact of the Sino-Japanese competitive relationship from a holistic perspective. It assesses the impact in three main areas: major power competition on specific bilateral relationships; maritime security; and regionalism and institutional-building. The reason for taking this approach is to obtain a more comprehensive understanding of the impact of probably the most important bilateral relationship in East Asia on ASEAN. The report concludes with a list of policy implications for ASEAN. With a better understanding of how ASEAN is affected by the Sino-Japanese relationship, we hope ASEAN will be better prepared in responding to related developments in arguably the most important bilateral relationship in East Asia in the short or mid-term future.
East Asia and Asia Pacific / International Politics and Security / Maritime Security / Policy Reports / Regionalism and Multilateralism / Southeast Asia and ASEAN
Last updated on 25/12/2014