The alignment of small states: Singapore and Vietnam
Mills, Roman C.
Twomey, Christopher P.
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China's economic growth and military modernization over the past decade presents a foreign policy challenge to Southeast Asia. The balance of power in Asia, so long dominated by the U.S., is beginning a shift toward China. At the same time, China is growing more assertive toward its neighbors. This thesis seeks to explain how Singapore and Vietnam are reacting to this change. Using the existing literature and the historic example of Finland's policies in the last century, it presents alignment behavior as a negotiating process between states. These negotiations are both constrained and driven by realist concerns, existing institutions and domestic politics, which affect the speed and the form that changing relationships and alignments take. Presented in this manner, this theory offers two distinct explanations for the policies of Vietnam and Singapore. In Vietnam, the concern over the threat of China, coupled with a lingering mistrust of the United States, has led to a distributed balancing approach that spreads Vietnam's security reliance among a number of regional powers. In Singapore, the limited threat China presents and the resolution of other regional threats relaxes the need to balance and enables Singapore to view the rise of China as an opportunity.
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