Coping with the Dragon: Small States of South Asia and Their Foreign Policy Responses to China’s Rise
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Bangladesh University of Professionals (BUP)
University of Dhaka
Publication date: 2020-06-30
Stosunki Międzynarodowe – International Relations 2020;56(2)
The extraordinary rise of China is one of the most remarkable events of the 21stcentury and it has attracted tremendous interest in international politics. Yet, the ways in which the small states in South Asia strategically respond to the changes in the systemic structure have largely been neglected in traditional literature. This article seeks to fill this gap by systematically analysing the types and causes of strategies undertaken by three small states in South Asia in order to respond to China’s rise. Empirically, it focuses on the contentious regional dyads in South Asia and its maritime domain, exploring how structural, behavioural, and past experiences shape the way in which Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Maldives respond to a rising China and the regional power politics. This article concludes that the small states in South Asia are neither bandwagoning nor balancing China, as structural realism assumes. Instead, these states have adopted a form of a ‘hedging’ strategy where they do not merely act as Lilliputians in Gulliver’s world, but they maximise opportunities that a rising China offers these countries of South Asia.
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