The neoclassical realist theoretical paradigm emphasizes the importance of analyzing the unique complexity of state polity composition to analyze international relations. ASEAN hedging strategies require that the analysis of the nature of these states themselves to adequately comprehend this behavior. Assuming them to be black boxes acting so-called rationally in response to the rise of China is not effective. Not all of them are so willing to hedge; Vietnam is much more resistant to Chinese claims in the South China Sea. Vietnam is a nation state, consequently it is more likely to perceive challenges and display nationalist motivations. In contesting China's territorial claim to the entire South China Sea, Vietnam has demonstrated notably assertive behavior. Media reports note that Vietnamese public opinion has manifested widespread support for closer relations with the US, despite the recent history of the Vietnam War. Vietnam's behavior stands in contrast to that of the Philippines, a longtime US ally. Under President Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippines has moved expeditiously to improve relations with China. Manila did so despite high profile coverage in the international media of China's physical assertion of its sovereignty over the Scarborough Shoal, which Manila claims as part its exclusive economic zone. A critical factor explaining this difference in foreign policy behavior is the fundamentally different nature of Vietnam as a nation state, while the Philippines and the other South China Sea littoral states are post-colonial, multiethnic states. Nation states demonstrate significantly different patterns of policy goal behavior than non-nation, multi-ethnic states.
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session
Associate Professor of Political Science, International Studies Department, Catholic University of Korea, South Korea
Gyeonggi-do, South Korea
Ben DeDominicis currently lives in Seoul, South Korea. He earned his PhD in political science from the University of Pittsburgh and his BA in Russian and political science from Ohio State University. He completed a semester of study in Moscow. Dr. DeDominicis taught at the new, USAID-funded American University in Bulgaria for 15 years before taking a position at the Catholic University of Korea. His specializations include American politics and history as well as foreign policy analysis, organizational behavior, nationalism, and international law and organization. His research interests include Bulgaria and Southeastern Europe, Newly Independent States and Greater Middle East, American foreign policy, and the United Nations, European integration, and Korean & Northeast Asian international relations.