Reassessing hedging: The logic of alignment in east Asia

Darren J. Lim, Zack Cooper

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    139 Citations (Scopus)


    It is widely claimed that secondary states across East Asia are not purely balancing or bandwagoning, but rather hedging between the United States and China by combining policies of economic and political engagement with risk management. We argue that hedging behavior should not include costless activities that do not require states to face trade-offs in their security choices. We redefine hedging as signaling that generates ambiguity over the extent of a secondary state’s shared security interests with great powers. This definition returns the focus to security relationships and better accounts for the trade-offbetween autonomy and alignment. Based on this definition, we argue that hedging occurs in far narrower (but arguably more interesting) circumstances than is widely believed. Many Asian states have existing treaty alliances with the United States or major territorial conflicts with China, creating path dependencies that reinforce balancing behavior rather than hedging. We therefore clarify cross-national variation in state behavior and contribute to the larger research project on regional responses to China’s rise.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)696-727
    Number of pages32
    JournalSecurity Studies
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2015


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