The Rise of Asian Defense Diplomacy

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    The rise of multilateral defense diplomacy in Asia is an important new phenomenon. In addition to the newly established ADMM+ process and the Shangri-La Dialogue (SLD), ASEAN defense ministers, ASEAN chiefs of defense and ASEAN chiefs of intelligence are now all meeting on a regular basis. Such gatherings were almost unthinkable as recently as a decade ago. This paper seeks to interpret these developments and their implications for the Sino-Australian security relationship. It argues that while these recent developments appear to reflect a deepening of Asian security cooperation, they are actually a manifestation of an intensifying institutional competition, namely between the ASEAN-centered ADMM and the Western-backed SLD. This, in turn, is symptomatic of a broader institutional contestation––reflecting underlying strategic competition––which is becoming a distinctive feature of Asia’s emerging security ‘architecture.’ The paper goes on to argue that China and Australia find themselves on opposite sides of this competition and, particularly in the area of defense diplomacy, are likely to become increasingly important players in fuelling it. The paper concludes by observing why such a dynamic is potentially problematic and offers a modest set of policy recommendations designed to assist Beijing and Canberra in addressing and alleviating their competitive tendencies.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)Online
    JournalContemporary International Relations
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


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