Southeast Asia’s and Russia’s Relations with China

Southeast Asia’s and Russia’s Relations with China

Petra Vaculíková23 Jan 2020Leave a comment


29 January 2020

Palacký University in Olomouc

29/1, Křížkovského 12, Room KB 2.15

Organized by Alfred Gerstl, Marie Sklodowska-Curie Individual Fellow, Department of Asian Studies, and the EU-funded project Sinophone Borderlands – Interaction at the Edges (reg. CZ.02.1.01/0.0/0.0/16_019/0000791)

Representations of China in Contemporary Political and Cultural Narratives of Russian Identity

Sergei Akopov

Higher School of Economics, St. Petersburg

This presentation builds on previous research on the symbolic representations of China in the Russian political discourse by focusing on new Russian political narratives of `geopolitical loneliness´ and `civilizational realism´. It explores historical, psychological and religious aspects of these narratives to find what role does `the return of the civilizational state´ in China play in the construction of the new Russian collective identity of ‘state-civilization’; and how does the latter contribute to new articulations of Russia’s sovereignty. 

   Besides the official political discourse, this contribution also analyses contemporary intellectual disputes on China and the BRICS within major Russian foreign policy think tanks. It pays particular attention to debates on how profound the current Russian “pivot to the East” can be, and what role do fears of China (for example, the BRI) play in Russia’s strategy of the development of the Eurasian Economic Union. This will include pros and cons of interpreting Russia’s `geopolitical loneliness´ asthe price to be paid for securing its role of the (militant)vanguard of the `Global South´ and the anti-West.  

   This presentation concludes with the discussion of perceptions and misperceptions of China and Chinese in Russian popular culture. Here we will study the common stereotypes of China within the contemporary Russian film industry and literature. We will use the theoretical framework of `ontological security´ to address important aspects shaping contemporary Sinophobia within Russian narratives of collective memory, national pride, and religious missionary zeal.

On Proposing Hypotheses to Untangling Malaysia’s Foreign Policy Behavior toward China

Farizal Mohd Razalli

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM)

Explaining Malaysia’s foreign policy behavior toward China may appear to be simple yet is full of complexities. Average critics are tempted to frame such a behavior within the small vs. big state relations. Such a framework is only convenient for as long as one solemnly devotes oneself to the domineering political realism. Nonetheless, even the most devout political realists reluctantly admit that the reality quickly eclipses the utility of the framework. In this presentation, the author seeks to propose two theoretical hypotheses that rest on two concepts often being controversially theorized in international politics – sovereignty and stability.

   Principally guided by exploratory research design, Malaysia’s foreign policy behavior toward China is being anatomized in terms of meta-data of diplomatic events, political leadership, historical legacies, commercial links, socio-cultural attributes and ideology. By puzzling out relationships between and within these meta-data, the author will attempt to evaluate the application of the two theoretical hypotheses in explicating Malaysia’s foreign policy behavior toward China. The tentative conclusion of the presentation provides that the two theoretical hypotheses can empirically explain the past, the present and the future foreign policy behavior of Malaysia toward China. Implications of the presentation’s analysis on regional (ASEAN member states’) foreign policy behavior will also be highlighted to trigger a much richer debate from the audience.

The Changing Hedging Strategies of Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam towards China

Alfred Gerstl

Marie Sklodowska-Curie Individual Fellow, Palacký University Olomouc

This presentation assesses the relations of Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam with China in general and under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in particular. Theoretically, this contribution applies an updated hedging concept, initially introduced by Le Hong Hiep, adding a Constructivist component to assess the positive and negative perceptions of a political leader of the hedging target and potential balancing partners.

   In regard to Malaysia, this contribution demonstrates that under Mahathir Mohamad the strategy of the middle power Malaysia towards China still contains elements of engaging and balancing. However, a shift towards a cautious and moderate bandwagoning with China in the South China Sea dispute becomes visible. Yet, overall Malaysia promotes omnidirectional relations in the economic, political-diplomatic and security realm, especially with ASEAN, the US and Japan. The main reasons for the partial softening of Malaysia’s hedging strategy towards China are Mahathir’s perceptions of China’s growing power, the economic incentives offered by the BRI and the perceived limited strategic usefulness of potential balancing partners in the South China Sea dispute.

   The case studies of Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam demonstrate that the unresolved South China Sea dispute is a key obstacle for closer relations with China. In this dispute, both a democratic and an authoritarian regime cannot ignore the China-critical views of its citizens, including nationalist sentiments.

Biographies

Sergei Akopov is Professor at the Department of Applied Political Science at National Research University – Higher School of Economics (HSE), Campus St. Petersburg in Russia. His research interests include Political Philosophy / Political Theory, Transnational & World Politics, Transnational Intellectuals, Identity Politics and Symbolic Politics, Political and Cultural Anthropology, Political & Intercultural Communication as well as Nationalism, Political Identities and ‘Enemy’ Images.

Alfred Gerstl is a specialist on International Relations in Southeast Asia. He currently holds a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship (CZ.02.2.69/0.0/0.0/18_070/0010285) at the Department of Asian Studies at Palacký University in Olomouc (Czech Republic). Alfred was previously lecturer and visiting professor in Australia, Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany and Russia. His research interests include Theories of International Relations, traditional and human security, regional cooperation, the Belt and Road Initiative and the South China Sea dispute.

Farizal Mohd Razalli is currently attached to the Center for Politics, History and International Affairs at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM). He specializes in foreign policy and diplomacy with a regional focus that includes Southeast Asia (with China), South America and Western Europe. His contemporary research works reflect upon energy policy, strategic negotiations, technology-security nexus, governance-sustainability as well as formal modelling and statistical analyses in international politics.

Programme

9:30 Registration with coffee and tea

9:45 Opening Remarks (Alfred Gerstl)

10:00–11:15 Sergei Akopov (Higher School of Economics, St. Petersburg): Representations of China in Contemporary Political and Cultural Narratives of Russian Identity

11:15–11:30 Coffee Break

11:30–12:45 Farizal Mohd Razalli (Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia): On Proposing Hypotheses to Untangling Malaysia’s Foreign Policy Behavior toward China

12:45–14:30 Lunch Break

14:30–15:00 Alfred Gerstl (Marie Sklodowska-Curie Individual Fellow, Department of Asian Studies): The Changing Hedging Strategies of Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam towards China  

15:00–15:30 Filip Kraus (Sinophone Borderlands – Interaction at the Edges): Vietnam between the PRC’s Belt and Road Initiative and Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy

15:30–16:00 Richard Turcsányi (Sinophone Borderlands – Interaction at the Edges): Chinese Assertiveness in the South China Sea 

16:00–18:30 Discussion: Sino-Russian and Sino-Southeast Asian Relations

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