Bilateral and Multilateral Approach of The United States and China Towards ASEAN

Irawan Jati

Abstract views = 623 times | views = 473 times


The U.S. and China relations in Southeast Asia have been a long contesting history. It is no question that the U.S. and China are playing strategy to stronghold Southeast Asia for their gain. Both states seek greater influence by applying the multilateral and bilateral approach to ASEAN and its member states. In engaging to ASEAN, the U.S. and China joined ASEAN led multilateral forums such as the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and ASEAN Plus Three. Traditionally, the U.S. and China already have bilateral diplomatic relations with all ASEAN member states. But it does not necessarily represent their deep commitment to the Southeast Asia region. Furthermore, ASEAN relations with the U.S. and China are overshadowed by the rivalry between the two major powers. The US increasing military tied with the Philippines and Thailand's strategic plan to acquire submarines from China are the recent development of rivalries between the two. Therefore, it is fascinating to examine how the US and China's bilateral and multilateral approaches affecting ASEAN and its member states policies. It is argued that ASEAN should maintain neutral performance in engaging with the U.S. and China. It also suggests that ASEAN member states should keep their 'community' identity to derogate the possible deterioration of the stability in the region.


Hubungan antara Amerika Serikat (A.S) dan Tiongkok di kawasan Asia Tenggara memiliki sejarah persaingan yang panjang. A.S dan Tiongkok memainkan strategi untuk menguasai Asia Tenggara demi kepentingan mereka. Kedua negara berusaha untuk mencapai pengaruh yang lebih luas dengan melakukan pendekatan multilateral dan bilateral pada ASEAN dan negara anggotanya. Dalam hubungaannya dengan ASEAN, A.S dan Tiongkok terlibat dalam forum multilateral ASEAN seperti ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), dan ASEAN Plus Three. Secara tradisional, A.S dan Tiongkok telah memiliki hubungan diplomasi bilateral dengan negara anggota ASEAN. Namun hal tersebut belum menunjukkan komitmen utama mereka di kawasan Asia Tenggara. Lebih jauh lagi, hubungan ASEAN dengan A.S dan Tiongkok dibayangi oleh persaingan antar kedua negara besar tersebut. Peningkatan hubungan militer A.S dengan Filipina dan rencana strategis Thailand untuk membeli kapal selam dari Tiongkok merupakan perkembagan teranyar dari persaingan antar kedua negara tersebut. Oleh karenaya, artikel ini akan menganalisis bagaimana pendekatan multilateral dan bilateral yang dilakukan oleh A.S dan Tiongkok mempengaruhi kebijakan ASEAN dan negara anggotanya. Argumen utama dalam artikel ini adalah ASEAN harus tetap mempertahankan netralitas dalam kebijakannya terhadap A.S dan Tiongkok. Artikel ini juga merekomendasikan agar ASEAN dan negara anggotanya tetap berpegang pada identitas ‘komunitas’ untuk menghindari kemungkinan eprpecahan di kawasan.


ASEAN, bilateral approach, China, multilateral approach, the U.S.

Full Text:




ASEAN Secretariat. 2015. "ASEAN International Merchandise Trade Statistics Yearbook 2014" ASEAN Secretariat. Jakarta. doi:10.1017/CBO9781107415324.004.

Dueck, Collin. 2010. Hard Line: The Republican Party and U.S. Foreign Policy since World War II. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Hoon, Khaw Guat. 1977. "An Analysis of China's Attitudes Towards ASEAN, 1967-76." Singapore. Institute of Southeast Asia Studies.

Journal and Online Journal

Ba, Alice. 2009. "Systemic Neglect? A Reconsideration of US-Southeast Asia Policy." Contemporary Southeast Asia 31 (3): 369. doi:10.1355/cs31-3a.

Bing, Ngeow Chow. 2015. "Comprehensive Strategic Partners but Prosaic Military Ties: The Development of Malaysia--China Defence Relations 1991-2015." Contemporary Southeast Asia: A Journal of International & Strategic Affairs 37 (2): 269-304. doi:10.1355/cs37-2e.

Evans, Michael. 2013. "American Defence Policy and the Challenge of Austerity - Some Implications for Southeast Asia." Journal of Southeast Asian Economies 30 (2): 164-78. doi:10.1355/ae30-2d.

Gilderhus, Mark T. 2006. "The Monroe Doctrine : Meanings and Implications The Doctrine : Implications Meanings Conceived." Presidential Studies Quarterly 36 (1): 5-16.

Kuik Cheng-Chwee. 2005. "Multilateralism in China's ASEAN Policy: Its Evolution, Characteristics, and Aspiration." Contemporary Southeast Asia: A Journal of International & Strategic Affairs 27 (1): 102-22. doi:10.1355/CS27-1F.

Kurlantzick, Joshua. 2006. "China's Charm Offensive in Southeast Asia." Current History. 105 (692): 270-76.

Limaye, Satu P. 2013. "Southeast Asia in America's Rebalance to the Asia-Pacific." Southeast Asian Affairs 2013: 40-50. doi:10.1353/saa.2013.0013.

Lum, Thomas, Ben Dolven, Mark E. Manyin, Michael F. Martin, and Bruce Vaughn. 2011. "Unites States Relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)." Current Politics and Economics of South, Southeastern, and Central Asia 20 (2): 247-76. doi:10.1146/annurev.polisci.6.121901.085546.

Mauzy, Diane K, and Brian L Job. 2007. "U.S. Policy in Southeast Asia: Limited Re-Engagement after Years of Benign Neglect." Asian Survey. 47 (4): 622-41. DOI: 10.1525/as.2007.47.4.622

Ming-Te, H, and Ttt Liu. 2011. "Sino-US Strategic Competition in Southeast Asia: China's Rise and US Foreign Policy Transformation since 9/11." Political Perspectives 5 (3): 96-119.

Morse, Julia C., and Robert O. Keohane. 2014. "Contested Multilateralism." Review of International Organizations 9 (4): 385-412. doi:10.1007/s11558-014-9188-2.

Noland, Marcus. 2009. "American Economic Relations with Asia." Asian Economic Policy Review 4 (2): 181-99. doi:10.1111/j.1748-3131.2009.01121.x.

Oehler-Şincai, Iulia Monica. 2014. "United States' ' Pivot ' Towards Asia-Pacific: Rationale, Goals and Implications for the Relationship With China." Knowledge Horizons - Economics 8 (1): 25-31.

Parameswaran, Prashanth. 2013a. "' The Power of Balance :' Advancing US-ASEAN Relations under the Second Obama Administration." The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs 37 (1): 123-34.

Pattiradjawane, René L, and Natalia Soebagjo. 2015. "Global Maritime Axis : Indonesia , China , and a New Approach to Southeast Asian Regional Resilience." Internatinonal Journal of China Studies 6 (2): 175-85.

Ruggie, John Gerard. 1992. "Multilateralism; Anatomy of Institution.pdf." International Organization 46 (3): 561-98.

Thayer, Carlyle A. 2003. "China's 'New Security Concept' and Southeast Asia." Asia-Pacific Security: Policy Challenges, 89-107.

Wuthnow, Joel, Xin Li, and Lingling Qi. 2012. "Diverse Multilateralism: Four Strategies in China's Multilateral Diplomacy." Journal of Chinese Political Science 17 (3): 269-90. doi:10.1007/s11366-012-9202-6.

Yunhua, Cao. 2013. "What Kind of Policy towards Southeast Asia Does China Need for Its Peaceful Rise ?" Journal of Ritsumeikan Social Sciences and Humanities 5 (3): 41-55.

Online Article

Anonymous. 2012. A New US Defense Strategy for a New Era: Military Superiority, Agility, and Efficiency: A Summary of the Findings of the Defense Advisory Committee. Washington: Stimson. [accessed on September, 18th 2016]

Anonymous. 2016. United States Trade Relations. [accessed on September, 18th 2016]

ASEAN Secretariat. 2016. ASEAN Economic Community Chart book 2016. Jakarta. [accessed on September, 15th 2017]

--------. 2017. "Overview of ASEAN-United States Dialogue Relations." Jakarta. [accessed on September, 15th 2017]

Cai, Peter. 2017. "Understanding China's Belt and Road Initiative." Sydney. [accessed on September, 15th 2017]

Campbell, Kurt, and Brian Andrews. 2013. "Explaining the US 'Pivot' to Asia." Chatham House. London. [accessed on September, 17th 2016]

China Power Team. 2016. "How Are Global Views on China Trending?" China Power. [accessed on September, 15th 2017]

Donahue, Kenneth S., and Therry Warin. 2009. "Multilateralism Cursed by Bilateralism: Japan's Role at IWC." [accessed on September, 15th 2016]

Ehrlich, Richard S. 2015. "Thailand Nears $ 1 Billion Submarine Deal with China despite Exclusive US Military Training." The Washington Times. [accessed on September, 18th 2016]

Majid, Munir. 2012. "Southeast Asia between China and the United States," 21-35. [accessed on September, 18th 2016]

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China. 2015. "Wang Yi Brought Forth a Ten-Point Proposal on China-ASEAN Cooperation." Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China. [accessed on September, 18th 2016]

Mitchell, Derek J (Ed). 2008. "The United States and Southeast Asia: Towards a Strategy for Enhanced Enggement." A Conference Report of the CSIS Southeast Asia Initiative. Washington, DC. [accessed on September, 18th 2016]

Parameswaran, Prashanth. 2013b. "Beijing Unveils New Strategy for ASEAN-China Relations." China Brief XIII (21). [accessed on September, 18th 2016]

Salidjanova, Nargiza, Iacob Koch-Weser, and Jason Klanderman. 2015. "China's Economic Ties with ASEAN : A Country-by-Country Analysis." United Stated - China Econimic and Security Review Commission. [accessed on September, 18th 2016]

Saunders, Phillip C. 2013. "The Rebalance to Asia: U.S.-China Relations and Regional Security." Strategic Forum. Institute for National Strategic Studies. doi:10.1111/j.1539-6975.2009.01318.x. [accessed on September, 18th 2016]

Stanley Foundation. 2003. "China and Southeast Asia." Policy Bulletin. Virginia. [accessed on September, 18th 2016]

Sutter, Robert G. 2005. "China's Rise in Asia - Promises, Prospects and Implications for the United States." Occasional Paper Series. [accessed on September, 18th 2016]

U.S. Mission to ASEAN. 2017. "History of the U.S. and ASEAN Relations." [accessed on Oktober, 15th 2017]

"United States-Indonesia Comprehensive Partnership." 2013. USTR. [accessed on September, 18th 2016]

Vaughn, Bruce, and Wayne M. Morrison. 2006. "China - Southeast Asia Relations: Trends, Issues, and Implications for the United States." Congressional Research Service Report for Congress. [accessed on September, 18th 2016]

Wike, Richard, Bruce Stokes, Jacob Poushter, and Russ Oates. 2014. "Global Oppoosition to U.S. Surveillance and Drones, but Limited Harm to America's Image." [accessed on September, 18th 2016]

Xinhua. 2013. "Li Raises Seven-Prolonged Proposal on Promoting China-ASEAN Cooperation." [accessed on September, 18th 2016]

Zubir, Mokhzani. 2004. "The Strategic Value of the Strait of Malacca." Analysis Paper, Maritime Institute of Malaysia, 1-19. [accessed on September, 18th 2016]


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2018 Jurnal Global & Strategis

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Global Strategis

Ruang Cakra Buana Catur Matra
C102 Gedung C FISIP Universitas Airlangga
Jl. Dharmawangsa Dalam Selatan, Surabaya 60286



Creative Commons License
Global Strategis journal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


Indexed by: