Whither the Balancers? The Case for a Methodological Reset - CWP Alumni Adam Liff

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017
by dsuchens

Abstract: Post-Cold War, balancing theory has fallen on “hard times.” A question of crucial importance for 21st-century peace and stability concerns how Asia–Pacific secondary states are responding militarily to China's rise. China's rapid growth, military modernization, and controversial policies vis-à-vis contested space and territories on its periphery make it a prime candidate for counterbalancing behavior. Yet several recent studies claim that secondary states are accommodating, even bandwagoning with, Beijing. This study challenges these claims, attributing them largely to problematic research designs not uncommon in the wider balancing literature. It proposes a methodological corrective, arguing for widespread employment of an alternative analytical framework relying on clearer definitions and explicitly delineated sets of 21st-century-relevant metrics reflecting the myriad ways contemporary militaries enhance their capabilities in response to perceived threats. Applied systematically to original analysis of the contemporary Asia–Pacific, this framework uncovers what existing studies miss—evidence of practically significant and accelerating balancing against China.

 

“[Governor Romney] mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military's changed.”1“Transcript of the Third Presidential Debate,” New York Times, 22 October 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/22/us/politics/transcript-of-the-third-presidential-debate-in-boca-raton-fla.html.View all notes

 

US President Barack Obama's response to his challenger Mitt Romney's criticisms that America's “Navy is smaller now than at any time since 1917” and that its “Air Force is older and smaller than at any time since it was founded in 1947” was a memorable moment of the 2012 US presidential debates.2Ibid.View all notes Such criticisms are nothing new to presidential campaigns of either party. Challengers often make similar claims to imply that the incumbent has allowed US military capabilities to atrophy. Related, albeit far more extreme, criticisms of Obama's policies already manifest in the 2016 campaign.3Micah Zenko, “Republicans Won't Stop Saying Our Military is Weak,” Foreignpolicy.com, 18 February 2016, http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/02/18/republicans-wont-stop-saying-our-military-is-weak/.View all notes

As captured in Obama's (admittedly hyperbolic) retort, in this specific instance Romney's rhetoric appeals to a widely held, yet often inaccurate belief that military power is best measured by the most easily quantifiable, conspicuous metrics: that larger numbers necessarily indicate greater warfighting capability, and fewer, less. Advocates of defense spending reductions often make analogous, problematic claims; for example, that the US Navy has greater combat power than the next dozen most powerful navies simply because its aggregate tonnage is bigger than the next thirteen (or more) navies combined.4James Holmes, “Sinking the Next-13-Navies Fallacy,” WarOnTheRocks, 10 July 2014, http://warontherocks.com/2014/07/sinking-the-next-13-navies-fallacy/.View all notes Though often based in fact, such claims can be misleading and often do not produce much practical light useful for defense planners.

Reliance on the most conspicuous and easily measurable—often quantitative—metrics also permeates the international relations literature. Though past studies demonstrate the limitations of such “traditional” approaches, especially when employed exclusively, usage remains widespread.5Stephen Biddle demonstrates that the standard metrics for military effectiveness permeating the theoretical literature predict real military outcomes “no better than coin flips.” He warns against overreliance on simple but often misleading measures of military capabilities. Stephen Biddle, Military Power: Explaining Victory and Defeat in Modern Battle (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004). For other seminal works in related literatures, see Allan R. Millett, Williamson Murray, and Kenneth H. Watman, “The Effectiveness of Military Organizations,” International Security11, no. 1 (Summer 1986): 37–71; Stephen Peter Rosen, “Military Effectiveness: Why Society Matters,” International Security 19, no. 4 (Spring 1995): 5–31; Allan R. Millett and Williamson Murray, eds., Military Effectiveness 3 vols., 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010). More recently, see Risa A. Brooks and Elizabeth A. Stanley, eds., Creating Military Power: The Sources of Military Effectiveness(Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2007); Keir A. Lieber, “Mission Impossible: Measuring the Offense–Defense Balance with Military Net Assessment,” Security Studies 20, no. 3 (July–September 2011): 451–59.View all notes This article examines several pitfalls of associated methodological approaches for the validity, reliability, and practical relevance of international relations theory. Its critique focuses on one core literature—that on balancing. Specifically, it highlights issues with how some recent scholarship applies this concept in answering a question of crucial importance to 21st-century international relations: how are secondary states in the Asia–Pacific responding militarily to China's rise?

Indeed, the contemporary Asia–Pacific provides a fertile testing ground. China's rapid economic growth, military modernization, and controversial policies vis-à-vis contested space and territories on its periphery make the region a prime candidate for balancing behavior. Yet in apparent contradiction of theoretical expectation, several recent studies addressing this issue most directly have concluded that secondary states are not balancing against China; rather, they are increasingly “accommodating,” even “bandwagoning” with, Beijing.6David C. Kang, “Hierarchy, Balancing, and Empirical Puzzles in Asian International Relations,” International Security 28, no. 3 (Winter 2003/04): 165–80; David C. Kang, “Getting Asia Wrong: The Need for New Analytical Frameworks,” International Security 27, no. 4 (Spring 2003): 57–85; David C. Kang, “Why China's Rise Will Be Peaceful: Hierarchy and Stability in the East Asian Region,” Perspectives on Politics 3, no. 3 (September 2005): 551–54; David C Kang, China Rising: Peace, Power, and Order in East Asia(New York: Columbia University Press, 2007), chap. 3; David Kang, “Paper Tiger,” Foreign Policy, 25 April 2013, http://foreignpolicy.com/2013/04/25/paper-tiger/.; David C. Kang, “A Looming Arms Race in East Asia?” National Interest, 14 May 2014, http://nationalinterest.org/feature/looming-arms-race-east-asia-10461.; Robert S. Ross, “Balance of Power Politics and the Rise of China: Accommodation and Balancing in East Asia,” Security Studies 15, no. 3 (July–September 2006): 355–95; Steve Chan, “An Odd Thing Happened on the Way to Balancing: East Asian States’ Reactions to China's Rise,” International Studies Review 12, no. 3 (September 2010): 387–412; Steve Chan, Looking for Balance: China, the United States, and Power Balancing in East Asia (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2012), chap. 3. Most recently, see Ronan Tse-min Fu's contribution to Ronan Tse-min Fu et al., “Correspondence: Looking for Asia's Security Dilemma,” International Security 40, no. 2 (Fall 2015): 181–204.View all notes Together with recent cogent critiques of the “soft balancing” literature, these findings suggest grave implications for balancing theory's continued relevance in the 21st century.

This article offers a nuanced counterargument. While recognizing deficiencies in both structural realist balance of power theory and problematic concept creep (for example, in soft balancing), critical examination of definitions and metrics employed in these studies of secondary state responses to China's rise casts doubt on their claims. An original empirical survey demonstrates that balancing against a perceived China threat—concrete and potential—is not absent but significant and accelerating. Existing studies’ arguments to the contrary are generally attributable to two primary factors. The first is the usage of problematic methodologies—an issue that also manifests to varying degrees in the wider balancing literature, and which has been “present since the creation.” The second is military vicissitudes have rendered reliance on several traditionally favored metrics (number of military personnel/platforms, or new formal treaty alliances) insufficient and, in many instances, misleading, even obsolescent. Rapid changes in military technology and the ways in which states act to deter would-be adversaries or prepare for military conflict today necessitate critical reflection before employing the long-favored, conspicuous, and most easily quantifiable metrics typically associated with the traditional, yet amorphous and usually underspecified, Waltzian categories of internal and external balancing.

This article's primary objectives are to highlight several definitional and methodological issues in the balancing literature and to propose and systematically test a straightforward, broadly applicable analytical framework designed to standardize approaches in conformance with best practices in social science. Standardization and improved methodological transparency improve inter-rater reliability. Meanwhile, explicit, contemporized, and more expansive lists of better-specified measures of internal and external force development and employment that 21st century states can adopt to enhance military capabilities in response to perceived external threats, coupled with explicit consideration of underlying causal drivers of observed outcomes, enhances validity of empirical tests for balancing behavior in a contemporary context. While designed for the balancing literature, this framework and its associated metrics should be broadly applicable.

To demonstrate the advantages of the proposed framework, this study applies it systematically through an original empirical analysis of secondary state military policy responses to China's rise. It reveals how vague definitions and problematic metrics have led several existing studies to overlook or misdiagnose important empirical trends, which in turn has contributed directly to dubious claims that key states are accommodating, even bandwagoning with, China.

More generally, this study has implications for a wider debate in the literature about the continuing relevance of balancing theory. Especially in the context of manifest balancing behavior against the United States by China over two-plus decades, and by and against Russia in eastern Europe today, it provides further evidence that neither the rejection of core theoretical tenets nor the dismissal of the concept as a useful lens through which to understand contemporary international relations is appropriate. Balancing continues to account for important phenomena powerfully affecting peace and stability, even in a globalized world characterized by extensive economic and security interdependence. That said, structural realist claims of inevitable balancing exclusively against capabilities under the constraints of anarchy are indeed problematic.7Stephen G. Brooks and William C. Wohlforth, “Hard Times for Soft Balancing,” International Security 30, no. 1 (Summer 2005): 72–108.View all notes Yet current developments in the Asia–Pacific, and increasingly eastern Europe, show that the more basic idea that states will balance militarily against perceived threats is not anachronistic. One does not need to stretch the basic concept to find contemporary manifestations of theoretical and practical significance.

This article consists of six sections. It begins with an overview of important trends in the balancing-related theoretical literature since the 1970s. The second section offers brief critiques of general and region-specific balancing literatures. It calls for a methodological reset and standardization. The third proposes a straightforward, two-step analytical framework to facilitate more valid and reliable empirical tests for balancing behavior in the 21st century. To demonstrate its potential advantages, the fourth applies it systematically to an empirical analysis of the contemporary Asia–Pacific—specifically, the military responses to China's rise of four neighboring states. The penultimate section discusses the study's general implications. The final section concludes.

HARD TIMES FOR BALANCING THEORY

In his seminal study, Kenneth N. Waltz offers a structural theory of international politics arguing that anarchy compels states to pursue “self-help.”8Kenneth N. Waltz, Theory of International Politics (Reading, MA: Addison–Wesley Pub. Co., 1979).View all notes In this view, the outcome of interstate competition is a recurrent pattern of balances of power whereby weak states form balancing coalitions to deter rising powers. One of Waltz's major contributions is his division of policy responses by states to the growing capabilities of others into two categories: “internal balancing” and “external balancing.”9Ibid., 118.View all notes Waltz's systemic theory has been criticized for saying little about foreign policy decisions of individual states.10Thomas J. Christensen and Jack Snyder, “Chain Gangs and Passed Bucks: Predicting Alliance Patterns in Multipolarity,” International Organization 44, no. 2 (Spring 1990): 137–68.View all notes Enter Stephen M. Walt's later study, which provides a seminal theory of alliance formation. Walt argues against the neorealists’ claim that states balance against power (military capabilities) alone. Instead, Walt introduces a subjective variable: threat perceptions.11Stephen M. Walt, The Origins of Alliances (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1987).View all notes

Despite a surge of scholarship in the 1980s and 1990s, balancing theory has of late fallen on “hard times” in the international relations literature generally, as well as recent studies most directly examining secondary state responses to rising China today. The foundational theories put forth by Waltz and Walt have attracted widespread criticism.12See Paul Schroeder, “Historical Reality vs. Neo-Realist Theory,” International Security 19, no. 1 (Summer 1994): 108–48; Randall L. Schweller, “Bandwagoning for Profit: Bringing the Revisionist State Back In,” International Security 19, no. 1 (Summer 1994): 72–107; William C. Wohlforth et al., “Testing Balance-of-Power Theory in World History,” European Journal of International Relations 13, no. 2 (June 2007): 155–85.View all notes Scholars have noted a conspicuous absence of balancing against the US “superpower,” even at the peak of its so-called unipolar moment.13Even Waltz wrote that the absence of balancing against the US hegemon is an “unnatural” condition. Kenneth N. Waltz, “Structural Realism after the Cold War,” International Security 25, no. 1 (Summer 2000): 56. See also T. V. Paul, James J. Wirtz, and Michel Fortmann, eds., Balance of Power: Theory and Practice in the 21st Century(Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2004); William C. Wohlforth, “The Stability of a Unipolar World,” International Security 24, no. 1 (Summer 1999): 5–41.View all notes

In the wake of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, several scholars attempted to save balancing theory from its critics by introducing the concept of “soft balancing,” which Robert A. Pape defines as “nonmilitary tools to delay, frustrate, and undermine aggressive unilateral U.S. policies.”14See Robert A. Pape, “Soft Balancing against the United States,” International Security 30, no. 1 (Summer 2005), 10; Paul, Wirtz, and Fortmann, Balance of Power.View all notes Several cogent scholarly critiques have convincingly dismissed soft balancing as excessive “concept stretching,” that is, broadening the meaning of the balancing concept “to refer to a phenomenon entirely distinct from the one it previously meant.”15Brooks and Wohlforth, “Hard Times for Soft Balancing,” 107; Stephen G. Brooks and William C. Wohlforth, “Brooks and Wohlforth Reply,” International Security 30, no. 3 (Winter 2005/06): 191; Stuart J. Kaufman, Richard Little, and William C. Wohlforth, eds., The Balance of Power in World History (Houndmills, Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), 3.View all notes By capturing all state efforts to influence the foreign policy of another, the definition of soft balancing is too all-encompassing to be analytically tenable. The apparent implication? Balance of power and soft balancing concepts are fundamentally flawed, especially when applied to the post-Cold War world.16See Brooks and Wohlforth, “Hard Times for Soft Balancing,” 75. For more on this debate, see Paul, Wirtz, and Fortmann, Balance of Power; Pape, “Soft Balancing”; Robert J. Art et al., “Correspondence: Striking the Balance,” International Security 30, no. 3 (2006): 177–85; Brooks and Wohlforth, “Brooks and Wohlforth Reply”; Keir A. Lieber and Gerard Alexander, “Lieber and Alexander Reply,” International Security 30, no. 3 (2005/06): 191–96.View all notes

In short, over the past two decades major scholarship on balancing-related theories, including both foundational books and efforts to salvage balancing theory by arguing it to be applicable in the post-Cold War world, have been widely—and often persuasively—criticized. Even in the contemporary Asia–Pacific, where China's rapid, across-the-board rise in all elements of material power presents a most likely case for eliciting balancing behavior, several recent studies conclude that China's neighbors are not balancing, nor will they in the future balance, against Beijing. Whither the balancers?

THE CASE FOR A METHODOLOGICAL RESET

Despite apparent shortcomings in structural realist variants of balance of power theory and soft balancing literatures, recent real-world developments suggest that on both theoretical and practical grounds discarding the balancing concept itself as invalid or obsolete would be ill-advised. The end of the Cold War did not herald the end of history. While the United States will remain the preeminent global power for the foreseeable future, leaders of China, the nation with the world's second largest (and rapidly growing) economy and military expenditures, have long been characterized as worshiping at “the high church of Realpolitik.”17Thomas J. Christensen, “Chinese Realpolitik: Reading Beijing's Worldview,” Foreign Affairs 75, no. 5 (September–October 1996): 37.View all notes For its part, Beijing clearly perceives the US military and Washington's hub-and-spokes alliance system as a threat and is balancing against it.18Adam P. Liff, “China and the U.S. Alliance System,” (working paper, Indiana University, 2016).View all notes In Europe, Russia's 2014 annexation of the Ukraine was, according to the Obama administration, disturbingly redolent of great power behavior from a bygone era. As Russia carries out an ambitious, multiyear rearmament program and its defense spending reaches post-Cold War highs, European countries have moved to strengthen deterrence with Washington and among themselves.19Reid J. Epstein, “John Kerry to Travel to Ukraine,” Politico, 2 March 2014, http://www.politico.com/story/2014/03/john-kerry-russia-ukraine-104140_Page2.html.; “Russian Defense Budget to Hit Record $81 Billion in 2015,” Moscow Times, 16 October 2014; “US Military Spending Falls, Increases in Eastern Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia Says SIPRI,” SIPRI, 13 April 2015, http://www.sipri.org/media/pressreleases/2015/milex-april-2015.; Andrew Rettman, “Nordic Pact Heightens Tension with Russia,” EUObserver, 13 April 2015, https://euobserver.com/foreign/128297.View all notes In short, circumstances in the world today suggest that balancing behavior remains an identifiable and geopolitically consequential phenomenon in international relations.

Salient problems with balancing theory, therefore, are not inherent in the basic concept itself—the idea that states enhance military capabilities in response to perceived external threats. Rather, they appear to figure most prominently in structurally deterministic arguments, already effectively challenged by key studies cited above, and the specific focus of this article: problematic methodological approaches used to derive and implement empirical tests of the theory. Of particular issue are vague, inconsistent definitions and operationalization of dependent variables, as well as a tendency to analytically privilege the most conspicuous and easily measurable—yet sometimes misleading—metrics. Either approach risks specious conclusions.

A Critique of General Approaches

An ideal methodological framework for empirical tests for balancing should begin with an explicit, analytically tractable definition for the dependent variable of interest: balancing behavior. Indeed, recent scholarship (for example, the soft balancing literature) has been criticized for not explicitly defining the concept or, alternatively, stretching it to such a degree that it becomes fundamentally different or so all-encompassing as to be unfalsifiable. Yet even in the hard balancing literature, definitions of the most ubiquitous dependent variables are often vague and inconsistent, rendering standards for empirical testing unclear. Furthermore, the literature generally relies on the fairly amorphous and underspecified Waltzian categories of internal and external balancing (see below); it lacks standardized, explicit, and contemporized lists of metrics appropriate for testing for balancing behavior in the 21st century. Simply put, key social-scientific best practices are often bypassed. Indeed, even some small-n qualitative studies do not provide clear evidence that the suspected causal mechanism is actually at play: that is, demonstrate empirically not only observations of the dependent variable (efforts to enhance military capabilities), but also a causal link to the suspected cause (a perceived external threat from another state, often a rising power)—as opposed to some exogenous factor. The potential costs of low specificity, limited transparency, and inconsistent methodological approaches are reduced validity and inter-rater reliability. Such approaches also frustrate efforts to evaluate a given study's argument.

These methodological issues are neither new nor unique to quantitative or qualitative approaches; rather, they trace their roots to foundational categories, definitions, and metrics. In his seminal study, Waltz argues that states pursue self-help through two strategies aimed at maximizing relative power: internal balancing and external balancing. Waltz defines the former as “moves to increase economic capability, to increase military strength, to develop clever strategies” and the latter as “moves to strengthen and enlarge one's own alliance or to weaken and shrink an opposing one.”20Waltz, Theory of International Politics, 118.View all notes Such concepts are powerful and pedagogically useful. Yet these category labels and relatively vague definitions have proven methodologically problematic in practice, often generating problems when it comes time to design rigorous, replicable empirical tests of balancing behavior. Subsequent scholarship has generally adopted Waltz's original binary categorization without addressing related issues or attempting to standardize lists of associated metrics to measure.

Specifically, by baking the term “balancing” directly into the metric categories’ names themselves, usage of Waltz’ labels assumes an implicit causal claim—that any observation of associated metrics must be, ipso facto, evidence of balancing behavior. This setup has led some studies to impute, rather than empirically demonstrate, causality. This is problematic, as factors other than perceived external threat (for example, domestic politics or prestige seeking) could be driving observed outcomes. Furthermore, because these two categories are amorphous the associated metrics with which scholars should operationalize, measure, and test for internal or external balancing behavior are left unclear.

Absent a clear, standardized definition of balancing and associated methodological framework and metrics, existing studies tend to loosely operationalize the key dependent variables of interest with vague, underspecified yet excessively restrictive definitions along the lines of “arms buildups” and “alliance formation,” respectively (See Table 1). Even recent studies offering improved definitions (for example, Randall L. Schweller's Unanswered Threats) typically lack lists of specific candidate metrics with which to operationalize these concepts and test for balancing. As demonstrated below, employing such loose definitions and standards risks neglecting practically significant internal and external measures that contemporary states adopt to enhance aggregate military power in response to perceived threats—that is, the very behavior implied (but underspecified) in Waltz’ original framework.

Table 1 Sample Definitions of Internal and External Balancing Behavior from Major Works in the Hard Balancing Literature21

CSVDisplay Table

 

In short, four decades after Waltz coined internal and external balancing, this vague and binary categorization is often adopted uncritically, without addressing its associated methodological problems. Consequently, definitions and associated metrics widely employed in the balancing literature are underspecified and inconsistent. As illustrated in the next section, the tendency to privilege a few relatively conspicuous and easily measurable—yet in some cases insignificant, obsolescent, or otherwise misleading—metrics coupled with loose standards concerning pinpointing causal mechanisms and conceptual stretching, is also not uncommon.22Keir Lieber and Gerard Alexander note that “loose standards” have allowed scholars “to code as balancing against a certain power action that is clearly not directed at that power.” Lieber and Alexander, “Lieber and Alexander Reply,” 194.View all notes

The potential pitfalls of such approaches manifest in several recent studies directly addressing the question of secondary state responses to China's rise. Each study concludes that China's neighbors are not engaging in balancing behavior.23Several studies admittedly predate the acceleration of balancing behavior since 2010 (see “Empirical Analysis: Secondary State Responses to China's Rise” below). Nevertheless, stated rationales for why balancing had/would not occur are either unrelated to material forces or predict the categorically opposite outcome as China grows more powerful—that is, increasing accommodation.View all notes The disconnect between such conclusions and a far more complicated empirical reality is demonstrated in the section entitled “Empirical Analysis: Secondary State Responses to China's Rise” below.

Bandwagoning with China? A Case-specific Critique

China's rapid economic growth, military modernization, and increasingly controversial policies vis-à-vis contested space and territories on its periphery make the contemporary Asia–Pacific a prime candidate ripe for balancing behavior. Yet several recent studies addressing this issue directly have concluded that secondary states are not only not balancing against China; instead, they are alleged to increasingly accommodate, even bandwagon with, Beijing as its economic and military power grows.24See footnote 6.View all notes

Problematic Definitions and Conceptual Dichotomies

To define balancing such that any significant evidence of cooperation or engagement in other domains (for example, trade) is interpreted as evidence that the state neither perceives a threat nor is adopting military policies to balance against it is an impractical standard. Such an approach constitutes excessive concept stretching and seemingly conflates balancing behavior with containment—two analytically and theoretically distinct concepts. Whereas the former is a military-domain-specific response to a perceived direct or indirect military threat, the latter is an across-the-board, multidomain strategy designed to weaken all aspects of an adversaries’ material wealth and power. Containment is predicated on an assumption that two states have nothing to gain from any economic cooperation. Conflating the two concepts generates an evidentiary threshold so extreme that few, if any, real-world cases—past or present—seem to qualify (the Cold War being a possible exception). It renders the balancing concept of negligible utility outside the realm of pure theory, except in the most extreme cases.

Yet suggestions of mutual exclusiveness exist in the literature claiming that balancing is not occurring in the contemporary Asia–Pacific. One recent study suggests that cutting trade with China is a condition for identifying balancing behavior.25Chan, “An Odd Thing,” 398, 401.View all notes Another's claim hinges on treating positive diplomatic/economic interactions and efforts to “turn latent power into military capabilities” (balancing) as mutually exclusive policy choices, suggesting states cannot do both simultaneously.26For relevant definitions, see Kang, China Rising, 51, 53. See also Kang, “Why China's Rise Will Be Peaceful,” 552.View all notes Such dichotomies of pure cooperation versus pure competition and their associated definitions of balancing behavior render these studies’ empirical claims unfalsifiable. Applied to the contemporary Asia–Pacific, they imply that states cannot seek benefit from China's rise economically while simultaneously balancing it militarily in response to perceived concrete security threats, or merely as a hedge against uncertainty concerning its future intentions and trajectory. Stretching the conceptual scope of balancing beyond the military domain generates unrealistically strict conditions that few real-world cases can satisfy. Even beyond the contemporary Asia–Pacific one would be hard-pressed to find a modern historical case that meets these conditions simultaneously during peacetime.27Many historical examples of states with tense or even adversarial relationships that nevertheless cooperated in other domains exist. For example, Britain cooperated with Germany throughout the 1930s while simultaneously engaging in a military buildup aimed at balancing against it. Art, “Correspondence: Striking the Balance,” 180. For a more general argument, see Peter Liberman, “Trading with the Enemy: Security and Relative Economic Gains,” International Security 21, no. 1 (Summer 1996): 147–75.View all notes One consequence of such problematic definitions is that practically significant balancing behavior is systematically overlooked.

A standardized definition of balancing with contemporary, real-world relevance should restrict the concept to policies in the military domain, and not be conditional on absence (or reduction) of commerce or diplomatic cooperation with the state constituting the perceived threat. Conversely, evidence of engagement in self-interested commerce or cooperation should not necessarily be interpreted as accommodation or bandwagoning—two theoretically loaded concepts in the security studies literature not originally conceived as tantamount to the mere existence of bilateral trade. Beyond its theoretical and methodological benefits, such an approach would be consistent with that adopted by most contemporary policymakers, whose own views (and policies) tend to reflect such domain-differentiated nuance.28As then-Australian Defense Minister Stephen Smith argued, “there's no inconsistency between a military alliance … with the United States and a comprehensive bilateral relationship with China.” “Australia Insists China is ‘measured’ on US Troops,” Agence France-Presse, 21 November 2011. Trade relations do not necessarily mean Australia is unconcerned about China; nor does Canberra balancing militarily preclude efforts to engage in mutually beneficial commerce.View all notes

Problematic Metrics and Causal Inferences

Given rapid changes to the nature of and technologies involved in 21st century warfare, selective focus on a few conspicuous, easily observable and measurable (and often exclusively quantitative) indicators increasingly risks overlooking important concomitant phenomena and, accordingly, can lead to unwarranted causal inferences. In particular, more personnel or platforms do not necessarily indicate greater effective military capabilities, while fewer mean less. Similarly, stable defense budgets as a percentage of GDP or in the context of economic and fiscal challenges do not necessarily evince an absence of practically significant balancing behavior. A related issue is conclusions drawn based exclusively on observed outcomes without digging into underlying causes.

Such general methodological issues manifest in existing studies arguing that secondary states are not balancing against a perceived threat from Beijing. The following analysis highlights four cases in point. These studies should be applauded for identifying several noteworthy and theoretically and practically significant trends—especially their pushback against popular memes and extreme claims of full-scale arms races unfolding across the contemporary Asia–Pacific. Yet their empirical analyses are, at best, incomplete; they overlook practically significant balancing behavior. Consequently, they reach unwarranted conclusions of accommodation of or bandwagoning with Beijing. In particular, consideration of a more exhaustive set of relevant metrics together with more extensive analysis of underlying causal mechanisms would have revealed practically significant balancing behavior where instead none was found.

“Internal Balancing.”

A popular metric for measuring internal balancing is military spending. The subliterature on the contemporary Asia–Pacific is no exception. Recent studies claim that defense spending trends demonstrate that China's neighbors perceive no threat from—and therefore cannot be balancing against—Beijing.29See Chan, “An Odd Thing”; Chan, Looking for Balance, chap. 3; and Kang, “Paper Tiger”; Kang, “Looming Arms Race?”View all notes

Defense spending can be a very useful metric for measuring balancing behavior. As with any single metric, however, it is, at best, insufficient and may even be misleading if used inappropriately. How several recent studies employ regional defense spending data reveal potential pitfalls of insufficiently critical or solitary reliance on the most conspicuous, often quantitative metrics. Most importantly, regardless of their slopes—positive or negative—spending trends in isolation are insufficient grounds for concluding whether balancing behavior is occurring. Military funding is but one factor potentially affecting effective military power. Furthermore, it is an abstract input and not a specific, targeted output. Specific policies achieving effective enhancement of military capabilities against a perceived threat (output), regardless of associated cost, are more useful metrics. After all, even enormous defense spending increases may generate negligible—or even negative—practical benefits for strategic objectives if allocated inefficiently (for example, aspects of the Wilhelmine naval buildup). Spending trends are certainly metrics important to any study of balancing. But their significance should be analyzed, not imputed.

Nevertheless, in two recent studies military expenditures as percentages of GDP are problematically treated as the sole criterion for judging whether internal balancing is occurring.30Chan, “An Odd Thing” and Chan, Looking for Balance, chap. 3.View all notes Beyond the danger of solitary reliance on any single metric as a general rule, defense spending in GDP–percentage terms is particularly problematic for two additional reasons. First, widespread and rapid economic growth across the Asia–Pacific has in important cases enabled significant increases in absolute defense spending. The resulting increased investment in military power has enabled operationally significant enhancements to military capabilities that narrow focus on spending on a GDP–percentage basis misses entirely. Indeed, China's relatively stable defense budget as a percentage of GDP over the past two decades provides a salient case in point, as China's military capabilities have grown in leaps and bounds (as has its absolute defense spending).31Adam P. Liff and Andrew S. Erickson, “Demystifying China's Defence Spending: Less Mysterious in the Aggregate,” China Quarterly 216 (December 2013): 805–30.View all notes

Second, these studies’ baseline analyses of contemporary military expenditures trends come from before the Cold War's end.32Kang, “Paper Tiger” and Chan, Looking for Balance, chap. 3.View all notes That secondary states’ defense spending as a percentage of GDP today is generally below late–Cold War levels sheds important light on leaders’ domestic priorities and drives home the important point that the Soviet Union was a bigger concern than China today. But it lends minimal purchase to answering these studies’ research question: whether states today perceive China as a threat and are balancing against it militarily.33For related critique and rebuttal, see Fu-Liff/Ikenberry exchange in Fu, et al. “Correspondence,” 181–86, 196–98.View all notes A comparison of US defense spending during the Cold War and today illustrates this point.

Misapplied, other quantitative metrics widely used to measure internal balancing can also risk problematic inferences. In particular, a common tendency is to conclude from quantitative decreases (or increases) in numbers of personnel or weapons platforms that states must be (1) reducing (or enhancing) their military capabilities and therefore; (2) do not (or do) perceive an external threat. Yet to do so without considering strategic context, qualitative characteristics of the specific unit/platform in question, and the causal driver of observed quantitative changes is ill-advised. For example, to buttress the claim that regional states do not fear China's rise one recent study points to absolute reductions in Vietnam's and Japan's ground forces.34Kang, China Rising, chap. 3.View all notes Yet as demonstrated in the fourth section below, when examined in strategic context quantitative decreases can paradoxically suggest increasing balancing against perceived threats from China. Indeed, the Asia–Pacific is a largely maritime theater where most contemporary flashpoints involve maritime territory, features, and resources. When coupled with shifts in force structure and posture to confront perceived threats in other domains (for example, maritime or air), ground force reductions can free up budgets and effectively result in increased capabilities useful for adapting to a dynamic threat environment. This is especially true for states with historically massive and poorly educated, trained, and equipped land armies or those fielding large numbers of operationally obsolete platforms. Again, China itself provides a case in point: Between 1991 and today, PLA ground forces shrunk by roughly one million personnel. Between 1991 and 2011, the number of combat aircraft declined by nearly seventy percent. But the leaner, better-resourced, and more technologically-advanced PLA in 2016 is far better prepared for a 21st century conflict—especially in non-land domains—than in 1991, when it was bloated, qualitatively backward, and largely reliant on 1950s-era Soviet weaponry.

Analyses of balancing based on one or several quantitative metrics with insufficient consideration of strategic context, underlying causal drivers, and other potentially, more practically consequential quantitative and qualitative trends are often incomplete and risk unwarranted causal inferences. In the examples above, metrics harnessed to argue that states are accommodating or bandwagoning with Beijing in important cases actually suggest the diametrically opposite phenomenon.

“External Balancing.”

Similar methodological issues manifest in analyses of metrics frequently associated with Waltz's second category of external balancing. Two popular, yet sometimes misleading or obsolescent, quantitative metrics are US military personnel stationed in the country of interest and formation of formal military alliances.

One recent study of the contemporary Asia–Pacific bases measurement of secondary states’ external balancing behavior entirely on the first metric.35Chan, “An Odd Thing,” 399–401.View all notes Singular reliance on US military personnel numbers is excessively US-centric and methodologically problematic, especially in an era and region in which the US military increasingly focuses on “places, not bases.”36Geoff Dyer, “US Spreads Military Presence across Asia,” Financial Times, 28 April 2014, http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/52b9edbe-ce25-11e3-bc28-00144feabdc0.html#axzz47EAitBoD.View all notesParadoxically, increased focus on access to military facilities of allied and partner states instead of increasing permanently stationed personnel—and rotations of personnel currently stationed in Asia–Pacific countries—is a direct response to a perceived China threat. One goal is to move forces beyond the reach of China's increasingly robust short- and medium-range conventionally tipped ballistic missile arsenal. Numbers of permanently stationed US military personnel is far from being a sufficient metric for measuring external balancing behavior in the Asia–Pacific today.

Another recent study concludes from the absence of new formal mutual defense pacts in the region that secondary states are not externally balancing against Beijing.37Chan, Looking for Balance, chap. 3.View all notes Though faithful to traditional metrics widely employed in the balancing literature, applied to the contemporary Asia–Pacific this seems an inappropriate standard. First, many of the region's wealthiest secondary states—those most capable of effectively balancing against China—were already established US treaty allies throughout the period under examination. Second, singular reliance on such a high evidentiary threshold leads one to overlook substantial and accelerating efforts of both US allies and non-allies to deepen practical defense cooperation, interoperability, and other military ties with the United States and with one another through measures short of signing conspicuous new treaty alliances. Yet the goal is often the same: a signal intended to deter a perceived threat or potential aggressor.

TOWARD AN INTEGRATED, STANDARDIZED METHODOLOGY

This section proposes a straightforward, two-step methodological framework to facilitate valid and reliable empirical tests for balancing behavior in a 21st-century context. It offers explicit and analytically tractable definitions; proposes extensive and better-specified menus of candidate metrics most relevant for measuring state-led efforts to enhance military capabilities in response to a perceived external threat; and stresses the importance of linking observed military policy outcome(s) (dependent variable) to the posited driver of those outcomes (independent variable).

A better integrated, more standardized analytical framework for tests of balancing behavior should begin with an explicit, analytically tractable definition of the dependent variable that is faithful to the spirit of the concept as originally conceived. It must avoid inappropriate concept stretching. Accordingly, the proposed framework has at its core a strict definition taking balancing back to its hardest conceptual roots: balancing behavior is (1) restricted to the military domain; (2) a policy response to perceived direct or indirect military threats to a state's security or material interests by another state; and (3) characterized exclusively by efforts to enhance the state's military capabilities to deter or, if deterrence fails, defeat the potential aggressor state in kinetic or non-kinetic military conflict.

Building off this strictly bounded definition, the remainder of this section proposes a two-step, broadly applicable methodological framework to assess whether a given state is engaging in practically significant efforts to enhance its military capabilities in response to a perceived external military threat. This framework is designed to enhance transparency and replicability through standardization and to maximize empirical tests’ validity.

Central to this approach is an explicit list of operationally significant—yet not always conspicuous—internal and external force development and employment measures leaders may adopt to enhance a state's military capabilities. These metrics provide a necessary complement to (or replacement for) the often underspecified, excessively restrictive, and in some cases even potentially misleading metrics widely associated with the traditional categories of internal and external balancing: superficial and typically easily quantifiable measures of arms buildups and new formal treaty alliances. Although designed with the balancing literature in mind, the utility of this approach and associated metrics should be applicable to studies of various phenomena of interest to international security scholars.

The first step of the proposed framework is a comprehensive survey of measures the state in question could have adopted to enhance its military capabilities (below, military capabilities enhancement, or MCE). The objective is to identify candidate symptoms of balancing behavior by creating a map of observed changes to a state's military policies during a particular period of time. In contrast, limiting empirical surveys a priori to a few select, often conspicuous and easily quantifiable measures risks neglecting less obvious, but potentially equally or more practically significant qualitative and quantitative factors with direct implications for the state's effective military capabilities in a particular anticipated contingency.

A candidate list of MCE measures appears in Table 2. While remaining faithful to the spirit of Waltz's original categorization, it replaces the problematic categories of internal and external balancing with new descriptive labels. The first MCE category, force development, captures internal and external measures to enhance general warfighting capabilities of a given state's military forces qualitatively and quantitatively. The second category, force employment, captures internal and external measures aimed at maximizing leaders’ ability to utilize those forces expeditiously, effectively, and efficiently in a particular posited contingency. In addition to subsuming widely used traditional metrics (for example, defense spending and formal treaty alliances) these more inclusive categories are designed to draw scholars’ attention to the important, yet often less conspicuous or more difficult to measure—and therefore often overlooked—force development and employment policies that leaders of 21st-century militaries may adopt in response to a perceived external threat. These more fine-grained metrics also facilitate identification of the specific threat and contingency against which the observed MCE are targeted. There are no explicit temporal or geographic scope conditions for these metrics. Yet they should be especially useful for contemporary cases. They are designed to reflect the rapidly changing nature of warfare in the information age. In an era of joint operations, precision guided missiles, data links, and the advent of new threat domains (for example, the cyber domain), actual military capabilities and effectiveness are increasingly determined by factors less conspicuous and amenable to quantification than, say, new mutual defense pacts or number of military personnel.

Table 2 Candidate Metrics for Measuring Military Capabilities Enhancement (MCE) Efforts

CSVDisplay Table

 

These MCE category labels offer two main advantages over the traditional categories of internal balancing and external balancing. First, they facilitate usage of more extensive and concrete lists of candidate MCE measures most relevant to balancing behavior in the 21st century. Second, by not incorporating the term “balancing” they avoid baking into the MCE category label an a priori causal claim that observation (absence) of any associated metric necessarily implies that balancing is (not) occurring. Avoiding implied causality in the outcome variable label reduces the risk of potentially invalid assumptions—that is, that any manifestation of associated MCE (or lack thereof) is necessarily evidence of balancing (or lack thereof).

Indeed, valid judgments about the presence or absence of balancing should be based on extensive analysis of both observed outcomes and their causal drivers. Accordingly, the proposed framework's second step is designed to minimize unwarranted causal inferences. Before drawing conclusions about whether balancing behavior is present, scholars should confirm whether MCE outcomes observed during the first step's empirical survey are attributable to the hypothesized causal mechanism: a desire to balance against a specific perceived state-based military threat. Bypassing this crucial step risks erroneously imputing a cause based solely on an observation of the dependent variable.

It is hoped that this analytical framework can enhance the validity and replicability of theory testing and development in contemporary contexts, in the process standardizing methodological approaches in the balancing literature.

EMPIRICAL ANALYSIS: SECONDARY STATE RESPONSES TO CHINA’S RISE

This section demonstrates the advantages of the proposed two-step framework through an original empirical survey of recent developments in the contemporary Asia–Pacific, specifically the military policy responses of key secondary states to China's rise. It reveals how traditional approaches have led several past studies to significantly understate, and in some cases inappropriately dismiss categorically, the extent to which they are engaging in balancing behavior against perceived threats from China—with and without US support. It does so while explicitly avoiding concept creep—restricting its analytical lens consistent with the definition of balancing behavior introduced above: military force development or employment responses to perceived military threats to a state's security or material interests.

In keeping with the prescribed two-step protocol, the first step is to look for signs that secondary states are adopting internal or external force development or force employment measures aimed at enhancing military capabilities in practically significant ways. The second step is to assess whether these observed MCE are best attributed to the independent variable and causal mechanism of interest: a perception of China's rise or specific behaviors as threatening.

This section proceeds as follows. First, it offers a concise overview of relevant aspects of China's rise over the past two decades. This is followed by analyses of the military policy responses of four secondary states: Australia, Japan, Singapore, and Vietnam. In the interest of case selection diversity, the first two states maintain formal security treaties with the United States. The latter two do not, and are also nondemocracies. The analysis of this section reveals that, contrary to the findings of some recent studies on the topic, China's rise is eliciting from key neighbors significant and accelerating balancing behavior, both internally and externally. Perhaps most interestingly, China appears to be driving regional countries to cooperate militarily with one another—not just the US—in unprecedented ways.

Rising China

For more than two decades, rapid increases to military spending have enabled Beijing to achieve remarkable and rapid improvements to its modern warfighting capabilities. Between 1990 and 2015, China's official defense budget increased by double digits in nominal terms every year except 2010. China's official 1997 defense budget was $10 billion—roughly the same as Taiwan's and one-fourth that of Japan. Today, Beijing's official defense budget—$147 billion—is nearly four times Japan's and thirteen times that of Taiwan. Various exclusions from Beijing's official military budget mean actual spending is much higher.38Liff and Erickson, “Demystifying,” 809–12.View all notes

Regardless of Beijing's intentions, the People's Liberation Army (PLA)'s rapid modernization constitutes a potential threat to China's neighbors. Though far from achieving conventional parity with the globally distributed US military, the increasingly capable PLA has for years posed significant asymmetric threats to even the region's most advanced militaries, including the United States’.39Thomas J. Christensen, “Posing Problems without Catching Up: China's Rise and Challenges for U.S. Security Policy,” International Security25, no. 4 (Spring 2001): 5–40.View all notes Two cases in point are the PLA's robust conventional ballistic missile and cruise missile programs. Qualitatively, the modernity and capability of PLA operational systems (especially missile, naval, air, cyber, and space capabilities) have increased significantly.40Ronald O’Rourke, “China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities—Background and Issues for Congress,” Congressional Research Service, 31 March 2016, 5–6.View all notesBeyond its rapid naval advances, of direct relevance to Beijing's coercive leverage in maritime disputes, China now possesses the world's largest coast guard fleet with more hulls than all its neighbors combined.41Ryan D. Martinson, “China's Second Navy,” Proceedings Magazine, 141 (April 2015), http://www.usni.org/print/61711.View all notes Meanwhile, its coercive capabilities using cyber, space, and kinetic power projection are also growing significantly.42Office of the Secretary of Defense, Annual Report to Congress: Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China 2015, (Office of the Secretary of Defense, 2015).View all notes

Beyond rapidly advancing capabilities, China's policies and rhetoric toward its neighbors are perceived overseas as increasingly and provocatively “assertive,” even “aggressive.”43For a critique of the “assertiveness meme,” see Alastair Iain Johnston, “How New and Assertive Is China's New Assertiveness?” International Security 37, no. 4 (Spring 2013): 7–48.View all notes This is especially true as it concerns Beijing's efforts to assert its sovereignty claims in the South and East China Seas. For its part, China's government and military frequently criticize US “containment” (ezhi) and “encirclement” (weidu) efforts, place the blame entirely on the United States and its allies, and bemoan an alleged “China threat theory” (zhongguo weixielun) promulgated for “ulterior motives” (bieyouyongxin).44Liff, “China and the U.S. Alliance System.”View all notes

In this context, correctly answering the question of how regional states are responding to China's rise becomes increasingly salient for both theory and policy.

Step 1: Empirical Survey

This section implements the first step of the methodological framework introduced earlier. It shows concretely how several recent studies relying on traditional metrics mischaracterize the balancing responses of regional states. Specific to this article, the objective is to determine whether four key Asia–Pacific secondary states are adopting internal or external force development or force employment policies (that is, MCE) that could potentially constitute hard military balancing responses against China. In social-scientific terms, the objective is to determine whether the observed value of the dependent variable is zero (the state in question shows no sign of efforts to significantly enhance its military capabilities) or one (the state in question shows clear signs of efforts to significantly enhance its military capabilities).45If the observed realization of the dependent variable is one, then Step 2 will search for evidence that it is in fact driven by the causal mechanism of interest—a perceived threat from China.View all notes Cases appear in alphabetical order.

Australia

Under Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (2007–2010), Australia's 2009 Defence White Papercalled for a two-decade buildup during which defense budgets would increase every year. If implemented faithfully, it would be the largest buildup since 1945. With a total of $52 billion in procurement spending, there would be heavy investments in naval ships such as Aegis-class destroyers, Australia's largest-ever defense project, the next-generation “Future Submarine,” and airpower, most notably in the form of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.46“Australia's 20-year Defence White Paper Covers Most of the Bases,” Jane's Defence Weekly, 6 May 2009.View all notes In 2013 Rudd's successor, Julia Gillard, confirmed most long-term acquisition plans and increased defense spending.47Mark Thomson, “Deciphering Australia's Defense Budget,” Asia Pacific Bulletin 215 (23 May 2013).View all notes Tony Abbott's Liberal–National Party coalition continued on this basic course. In 2014, Canberra further boosted military spending by 6.1 percent in real terms, inked a US$12 billion deal to procure fifty-eight F-35A Joint Strike Fighters—its largest-ever military purchase and a significant upgrade over the jets currently in its air force's inventory—and pledged to allocate US $115 billion to the military through June 2018. The Turnbull administration's 2016 Defence White Paper commits to ambitious procurements, increases defense spending to A$195 billion over ten years (the “most ambitious plan to regenerate the Royal Australian Navy since [1945]”), and calls a “strong and deep alliance” with Washington “the core of Australia's security and defense planning.” It also stresses strengthened force posture in northern Australia.482016 Defence White Paperhttp://www.defence.gov.au/whitepaper/Docs/2016-Defence-White-Paper.pdf.View all notes In short, significant internal enhancements to Australia's military capabilities attract support across the political spectrum. Beyond these internal efforts to enhance military capabilities qualitatively and quantitatively, Canberra has simultaneously pursued significantly closer ties with its long-time US ally. Australia continues to procure systems compatible with those of the US military, and in 2010 called for a defense cooperation treaty.49“Australia Calls for Stronger US Ties to Support Modernisation,” Jane's Defence Weekly, 19 March 2010.View all notes Canberra and Washington have expanded regular joint military exercises and now conduct dozens each year. Both measures improve interoperability—effectively enhancing the allies’ aggregate military power. Additional measures designed to update the alliance to operate more effectively in the 21st century include incorporating cyber defense into their defense treaty, as well as a joint communiqué in 2011 presaging greater interoperability, consultations on ballistic missile defense, and force posture alignment.50Viola Glenger, “Cyber Attack Threats Raised to U.S., Australia Treaty Status,” Bloomberg, 15 September 2011; “Australia–United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) 2011 Joint Communiqué,” http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2011/09/172517.htm.View all notes That same year, Australia's defense minister suggested that Australia may invite America to pre-position equipment on Australian soil and have greater access to and use of Australian test ranges, training grounds, bases, and ports.51Ian McPherdran, “US Eyes Base in State's Outback,” Advertiser, 29 July 2011.View all notes US President Barack Obama told the Australian Parliament that he had made a “deliberate and strategic decision” to increase US military access to Australian airfields, further bolster joint exercise and training, and deploy more than two thousand US Marines to an Australian base.52“Remarks By President Obama to the Australian Parliament,” 17 November 2011, http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/11/17/remarks-president-obama-australian-parliament.View all notes More recently, as part of the 2014 Force Posture Initiative to increase US naval and air access to Australian bases, the allies are in discussions of possible rotations of and joint training with US long-range strategic bombers and refueling aircraft.53Vishaka Sonawane, “US In Talks To Deploy B-1 Bombers, Expand B-52 Missions In Australia amid Growing Tensions in South China Sea,” International Business Times, 9 March 2016. http://www.ibtimes.com/us-talks-deploy-b-1-bombers-expand-b-52-missions-australia-amid-growing-tensions-2332981.View all notes

Canberra has pursued additional external measures to bolster its effective military capabilities, including expanded effective training and exercises, and further measures to deepen interoperability with other US security allies and partners, above all Japan. Since 2002, Australia has held five high-level (ministerial) Trilateral Strategic Dialogues with Washington and Japan, defended Japan's Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) in Iraq, and signed a breakthrough Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation with Tokyo in 2007, the result of which has been a qualitative and quantitative expansion of defense links, annual meetings between foreign and defense ministers, and significantly deepened military cooperation.54Evan S. Medeiros et al., Pacific Currents: The Responses of U.S. Allies and Security Partners in East Asia to China's Rise (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2008), 213–4.View all notes The trend continues, and the Australia–United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) 2011 Joint Communiqué called for increasing interoperability and training opportunities among the three countries, as well as trilateral policy coordination.55“AUSMIN 2011 Joint Communiqué.”View all notes Canberra and Tokyo have established and expanded unprecedented levels of bilateral and multilateral joint military exercises, including their first-ever joint air operations and bilateral antisubmarine warfare exercises.56“Australia and Japan Conduct First Joint Air Operations,” Jane's Defence Weekly, 28 July 2011.View all notes

In early 2013, the Japan–Australia Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement and Information Security Agreement gave bilateral defense cooperation an unprecedented legal foundation. In 2014, Abbott and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe signed several additional security deals, including on joint development of defense technology. During his visit to Tokyo that year, Abbott became the first foreign leader to attend a meeting of Japan's National Security Council and called for enhanced interoperability, more exercises, and greater intelligence cooperation.57“Australia Defends Security Deal with Japan,” AFP, 8 April 2014.View all notes Canberra and Tokyo are currently negotiating their first-ever Status of Forces Agreement, and in 2015 Japan sent forces to participate in the biannual US–Australia Talisman Sabre exercises in Australia.58Yusuke Fukui, “Japan Moves to Make Australia ‘Quasi-Ally’ in National Security,” Asahi Shimbun, 10 November 2014.View all notes Though in April 2016 the Turnbull administration ultimately announced France as the winner of a tripartite competitive bid, for two years Canberra considered—for the first time ever—turning to Japan for Australia's largest-ever defense contract—twelve submarines. Such a decision, which Turnbull's predecessor was reported to have favored, would have further upgraded bilateral military ties and deepened military interoperability. Most recently, Japan's government has suggested that Australian forces would be eligible for JSDF protection and logistic support under a July 2014 reinterpretation of Japan's constitution to allow limited exercise of collective self-defense.59Yusuke Ishihara, “The Case for Japan–Australia Defence Cooperation Guidelines,” Strategist, 6 May 2015, http://www.aspistrategist.org.au/the-case-for-japan-australia-defence-cooperation-guidelines/.View all notes In a December 2015 joint statement, Turnbull and Abe expressed strong opposition to activities to alter the status quo in the South China Sea and “encouraged continued progress” toward measures to “facilitate joint [Australia–Japan] operations and exercises.”60“Abe, Turnbull Affirm Opposition to South China Sea Buildup,” Nikkei, 19 December 2015.View all notes Though not a formal treaty alliance, each aforementioned development is practically significant.

Japan

Despite domestic political, normative, and structural headwinds, Tokyo has achieved remarkable improvements to its military capabilities by maximizing efficiencies. While Japan's recent (yet moderate) defense budget increases make global headlines, far less conspicuous but significant enhancements to military capabilities have been underway for years. Under Abe, Japan's increasingly proactive approach to both national and regional security has accelerated.

Internally, security-relevant reforms date back two-plus decades.61Adam P. Liff, “Japan's Defense Policy: Abe the Evolutionary,” Washington Quarterly, 38, no. 2 (Summer 2015): 79–99.View all notes More recently, they include upgrading Japan's Defense Agency to a full-fledged ministry (2007) and establishing its first-ever National Security Council and National Security Strategy (2013). JSDF doctrine has also undergone significant changes. Introduced in 2010 and updated to emphasize “jointness” in 2013, the “Dynamic Defense Force” concept formalized an ongoing quiet, yet significant, shift of force posture toward Japan's southwestern islands (that is, those closest to China) and increased emphasis on highly mobile forces capable of responding to contingencies running the gamut from peacetime to armed attack.62Ministry of Defense (Japan), “Defense Activities,” http://www.mod.go.jp/e/d_act/d_policy/national.html.View all notes Tokyo has also moved existing, highly capable platforms southwest, such as a squadron of F-15s recently relocated to Okinawa, and is shifting coastal defense units concomitantly. It has also constructed ballistic missile radar, signal intelligence facilities, and monitoring posts on remote southwest islands, and is now considering permanently deploying hundreds of troops there.63“GSDF May Permanently Station Hundreds of Troops on Okinawan Island,” Asahi Shimbun, 27 April 2015.View all notes Meanwhile, Ground Self-Defense Forces (GSDF) regional units based in Kyushu, in coordination with the Maritime Self-Defense Forces (MSDF) and Air Self-Defense Forces (ASDF), have initiated field training exercises focused on responding to an invasion of offshore islands.64Ministry of Defense (Japan), Defense Programs and Budget of Japan: Overview of FY2010 Budget, 6, http://www.mod.go.jp/e/d_budget/pdf/220416.pdf. In 2005, it was announced that the government had prepared a plan to defend Japan's southwest from possible invasion by dispatching a joint JSDF force spearheaded by 55,000 JGSDF troops. “Defense plan prepared for remote islands,” Japan Times, 16 January 2005.View all notes Also largely under the radar, over the past decade Japan has significantly bolstered its robust Coast Guard.65Richard J. Samuels, “‘New Fighting Power!’ Japan's Growing Maritime Capabilities and East Asian Security,” International Security 32, no. 3 (Winter 2007/08): 84–112; Yoko Masuda, “The Race to Beef Up Japan's Coast Guard,” Japan Real Time—WSJ, 27 October 2012, http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2012/10/27/the-race-to-beef-up-japans-coast-guard/?mod=WSJBlogtab/print/.View all notesMeanwhile, focus on military threats in the cyber domain and space has heightened.

These more subtle internal changes occur in concert with more traditional qualitative and quantitative improvements. Over the past decade, Tokyo has announced plans to expand its submarine fleet to twenty-two hulls, its largest size since 1945, double its Aegis destroyer fleet, and procure up to seventy P-1 maritime patrol aircraft to replace its aging P-3C fleet. It has commissioned two Hyuga-class helicopter destroyers to replace an inferior earlier class, which will soon be joined by two even larger and more capable Izumo-class helicopter destroyers. As of 2013, it plans to procure twenty-eight top-of-the-line F-35 fighter jets and seven more capable destroyers. The Abe administration plans to stand up by 2018 a Japanese amphibious force for the first time since 1945 and to purchase seventeen Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft and fifty-two amphibious vehicles in support.66Chuki Boeiryoku Seibi Keikaku (Heisei 26nendo–Heisei 30nendo) Ni Tsuite[Concerning the Mid-term Defense Program (2014–2018)] (Tokyo: Japanese Ministry of Defense, 2013), http://www.mod.go.jp/j/approach/agenda/guideline/2014/pdf/chuki_seibi26-30.pdf.View all notes JASDF reportedly will also double the number of F-15s based in Okinawa.67“Japan to Boost Defense in Response to PLA Drills in West Pacific,” Want China Times, 6 January 2015.View all notes

Externally, Tokyo has significantly deepened military ties with the United States and Washington's Asia–Pacific security allies and partners to enhance deterrence and interoperability through bilateral and multilateral training and exercises, expanded defense equipment and technology cooperation, and capacity building. In 2012, Abe called for the creation of a “democratic security diamond” linking Japan, Australia, India, and the United States. With Washington, ongoing measures to enhance interoperability include regular joint air and land exercises.68Tony Perry and Bruce Wallace, “Japanese Troops Shore Up Skills,” Los Angeles Times, 13 January 2006; “Exercise Cope North Focuses Enhances Japan, U.S. Operations,” Andersen Air Force Base, 25 January 2009, http://www.andersen.af.mil/News/tabid/1981/Article/415957/exercise-cope-north-focuses-enhances-japan-us-operations.aspx.; Sean Martin, “U.S., Japanese Airmen train for Red Flag-Alaska,” U.S. Air Force, 20 May 2010, http://www.af.mil/News/ArticleDisplay/tabid/223/Article/116607/us-japanese-airmen-train-for-red-flag-alaska.aspx.View all notes The US Navy and MSDF reportedly now hold over 100 bilateral joint exercises annually.69Emma Chanlett-Avery, The U.S.-Japan Alliance, (Washington, D.C: Congressional Research Service, 18 January 2011), 12.View all notes The allies announced common strategic objectives in 2005 (including those regarding the Taiwan Strait) and in 2006 announced a “roadmap for realignment” to further enhance interoperability.70For the common strategic objectives, see Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Japan), “Joint Statement US–Japan Security Consultative Committee,” http://www.mofa.go.jp/region/n-america/us/security/scc/joint0502.html.; for the “realignment roadmap,” see Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Japan), “United States–Japan Roadmap for Realignment Implementation,” http://www.mofa.go.jp/region/n-america/us/security/scc/doc0605.html.View all notes This effort includes co-locating bases in Japan and ramping up joint training and operations. Over the past decade, the United States and Japan have deepened cooperation on ballistic missile defense, including joint production of SM-3 Block-IIA interceptor missiles, as well as in cyber and space domains.71Joseph Coleman, “U.S., Japan Expand Missile-Defense Plan,” Washington Post, 23 June 2006.View all notes The two militaries have deepened interoperability through regional and global operations, including the JSDF's refueling of coalition forces in the Indian Ocean during Operation Enduring Freedom, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, antipiracy in the Gulf of Aden, and airlifting personnel and supplies in Kuwait and Iraq. Most recently, the April 2015 Guidelines for US–Japan Defense Cooperation build on two decades of gradual progress to launch bilateral cooperation into a new stage, opening new avenues for more robust, flexible, and effective defense cooperation in traditional and nontraditional security. Together with 2014's constitutional reinterpretation, they aim to bolster deterrence by expanding the scope of bilateral and multilateral training and exercises, and to strengthen the alliance politically and operationally.72Sheila A. Smith, “Reinterpreting Japan's Constitution,” Asia Unbound, 2 July 2014, http://blogs.cfr.org/asia/2014/07/02/reinterpreting-japans-constitution/.View all notes Institutionally, the alliance's new standing coordination and upgraded bilateral planning mechanisms should enhance interoperability, information sharing, interagency coordination, and crisis management.73Adam P. Liff, “Japan's Defense Policy.”View all notes Recognizing space and cyber as new security domains evinces cooperation actively tailored to address 21st-century threats. Legislation passed in 2015 entails commitments to more active, integrated support of US and other nations’ armed forces logistically and, in cases where they are “engaged in activities that contribute to the defense of Japan,” defensive kinetic force. Though less ambitious than Abe sought, enshrining in law an expanded menu of JSDF activities, including collective self-defense, will improve JSDF training, exercises, and readiness—independent of and together with other countries. 74“The Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation” (27 April 2015), http://www.mod.go.jp/e/d_act/anpo/pdf/shishin_20150427e.pdf.View all notes

Tokyo is also actively pursuing tighter military ties with its neighbors, especially Australia, but also South Korea, India, and the Philippines, even Vietnam. Japan's evolving relationship with Australia was discussed earlier. Under the 2014 Three Principles on Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology—which essentially lifted a decades-old arms export ban, international defense and industrial cooperation stands to expand significantly. In a move toward closer security cooperation unthinkable a mere decade ago, Tokyo pushed hard to convince Canberra to purchase Japan's Soryu-class submarines, which would have been Tokyo's most significant postwar military technology transfer, and the first major export and joint development/production program beyond Washington. Tokyo called Australia's possible selection of Japan's submarines of “significant strategic importance” and that it would “lead to operational cooperation” among the three militaries.75“Japan Links Australian Submarine Bid to Regional Security,” AFP, 22 November 2015.View all notes In 2011, Tokyo and Seoul called for a bilateral acquisition and cross-servicing agreement and a major intelligence-sharing agreement.76Ministry of Defense (Japan), “Nikkan Boeisho Kaidan No Gaiyo [Outline of Japan-ROK Defense Minister's Discussion],” June 4, 2011), http://www.mod.go.jp/j/press/youjin/2011/06/04f.pdf. As of this writing, political contretemps over history issues have prevented its fruition, however.View all notes That same year, Washington and Tokyo invited South Korea for the first time to observe their largest joint naval exercises.77“Largest Joint US–Japan Naval Drills Start,” Jane's Defence Weekly, 3 December 2010. Recent political tensions over historical issues, however, have frozen progress.View all notes In 2008 Japan and India proclaimed that their bilateral strategic partnership would become “an essential pillar for the future architecture of the region.”78Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (MOFA), “Joint Statement on the Advancement of the Strategic and Global Partnership between Japan and India,” 22 October 2008, http://www.mofa.go.jp/region/asia-paci/india/pmv0810/joint_s.html.View all notes In 2014 the relationship was upgraded to a “special strategic and global partnership,” entailing new agreements to hold regular joint naval exercises, discuss greater defense technical cooperation and consider establishing a new two-plus-two ministerial bilateral security dialogue.79“Japan, India to up Economy, Security Ties,” Yomiuri Shimbun, 3 September 2014.View all notes In March 2016, another round of trilateral Japan–US–Indian naval exercises near the East and South China Seas were announced.80Niharika Mandhana, “U.S., India, Japan Plan Joint Naval Exercises Near South China Sea,” Wall Street Journal, 3 March 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-india-japan-plan-joint-naval-exercises-near-south-china-sea-1457010828.View all notes Manila and Tokyo established bilateral defense dialogues and strategic partnerships in 2006 and 2009. Since 2015 they have signed a joint declaration on security and Japan's first-ever defense equipment transfer agreement with a Southeast Asian country, expanded bilateral and multilateral exercises, and are discussing Japanese provision of defense assets beyond patrol vessels already being built and—most remarkably—a possible Visiting Forces Agreement to allow JSDF to use Philippines’ bases rotationally, facilitating operations in the South China Sea.81MOFA (Japan), “Japan–Philippines Joint Declaration: A Strengthened Strategic Partnership for Advancing the Shared Principles and Goals of Peace, Security, and Growth in the Region and Beyond,” 4 June 2015. http://www.mofa.go.jp/s_sa/sea2/ph/page4e_000280.html.View all notes In March 2016, Tokyo agreed to lease aircraft to help the Philippines patrol the South China Sea. In April, two MSDF destroyers, a submarine, and a helicopter destroyer, docked at Subic Bay. Meanwhile, Manila has green-lit the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement to grant the United States military access to five Philippine bases, plans to reopen Subic Bay—the former US naval facility—and is receiving significantly more military aid from Washington than in recent years.82Trefor Moss, “U.S. Set to Deploy Troops to Philippines in Rebalancing Act,” Wall Street Journal, 20 March 2016.View all notes In 2014 Canberra and Manila expressed support for Tokyo's effort—achieved via a historic Cabinet Resolution on 1 July—to “reinterpret” Japan's constitution to enable it to limited exercise of the UN-sanctioned right of collective self-defense.83“Philippine Leader Backs Larger Japan Military Role,” Associated Press, 24 June 2014.View all notes Together with the US–Japan Defense Guidelines, Tokyo's decision suggests a significant expansion of Tokyo's defense cooperation and deepening interoperability with Washington, Canberra, and other regional states and further strengthening of Japan's security policy posture in the Asia–Pacific. Tokyo is reportedly considering exercises and possibly even patrols in the South China Sea.84“Japan Says South China Sea Security Impacts National Interests,” Reuters, 4 February 2015, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-southchinasea-japan-idUSKBN0L80JZ20150204.View all notes

Singapore

Distinct from Japan and Australia, Singapore had never been a formal US treaty ally. Yet it has developed an extremely close military relationship with Washington because of concerns about possible regional instability.85Robyn Klingler-Vidra, The Pragmatic ‘Little Red Dot’: Singapore's US Hedge against China (London: London School of Economics, 2012), 67; 71–72.View all notes As the Singaporean prime minister stated in 2000, “[t]he US presence has been a determining reason for the peace and stability Asia enjoys today. It has helped turn an unstable region of tension and strife into a booming and dynamic Southeast Asia.”86Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, “ASEAN-US Relations: Challenges” (Speech presented at the Asia Society, Singapore, 7 September 2000), http://asiasociety.org/asean-us-relations-challenges.View all notes Reflecting this assessment, ensuring the US military remains engaged and forward-deployed in East Asia is a key Singaporean foreign policy objective.87Medeiros et al., Pacific Currents, 185–86.View all notes

As a small country of five million people, there are practical limits to Singapore's ability to internally enhance its military capabilities. Yet it allocates roughly one-fourth of national spending to defense, has the largest defense budget in Southeast Asia, and is the world's fifth-largest arms importer.88Ali Mustafa, “Singapore: Small State, Big Weapons Buyer,” Al Jazeera, 28 March 2014, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2014/03/singapore-small-state-big-arms-purchases-2014320922191312.html.View all notes Defense spending increased by 5.7 percent in 2015 to roughly US$10 billion, building on a decade of annual increases averaging 4 percent.89Kelvin Wong, “Singapore Announces Latest Defence Acquisition Plans,” Jane's Defence Weekly 52, no. 16 4 (March 2015).View all notes It has used these funds to enhance its naval and air power. For example, it purchased modern, air-independent propulsion Archer-class subs from Sweden in 2005 and recently announced plans to replace obsolescent boats with German Type-218SG attack submarines. In the air, since 2005, Singapore has further expanded its fleet of F-15SGs to forty.90James Hardy and London Lindsay Peacock, “Singapore Quietly Expanding F-15 Fleet,” Jane's Defence Weekly 51, no. 39 (20 August 2014).View all notes In 2014, it announced a US$2.4 billion agreement with Washington to upgrade its F-16C/Ds fleet—originally purchased between 1998 and 2004.91“Singapore Announces SGD12.56 Billion Defence Budget,” Jane's Defence Weekly, 25 February 2014.View all notes Going forward, it is widely expected to invest in more high-tech, networked platforms, including the most advanced fighter the United States manufactures: the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.92Mustafa, “Singapore: Small State, Big Weapons Buyer.”View all notes

Externally, Singapore is particularly focused on deepening military ties with Washington. For years the city-state has hosted America's Navy Logistic Group West Pacific and Air Force 497th Combat Training Squadron.93Embassy of the United States Singapore, “Navy Region Center Singapore,” http://singapore.usembassy.gov/nrcs.html.View all notes In 2001, at its own expense Singapore upgraded its Changi Naval Base to accommodate US aircraft carriers.94Kelvin Wong, “CARAT Singapore 2014 Highlights Greater Interoperability between Singapore and US Navies,” Jane's Defence Weekly 51, no. 36 (30 July 2014).View all notes Meanwhile, Singapore's military forces have access to training and bases in the United States.95CPT Dexian Cai, “Hedging for Maximum Flexibility: Singapore's Pragmatic Approach to Security Relations with the US and China,” Pointer: Journal of the Singapore Armed Forces 39, no. 2 (2013), 3.View all notes Building on the 1990 Memorandum of Understanding granting the US military access to Singapore's military facilities, in 2005 Singapore and the United States announced a Strategic Framework Agreement upgrading the bilateral defense relationship to that of “major security-cooperation partners.” Singapore described the agreement as opening a “new chapter” in bilateral military ties. It called for expanded joint military exercises and training, increased policy dialogues, and enhanced cooperation in counterterrorism, defense technology, and counter proliferation.96Ministry of Defense (Singapore), “Factsheet—The Strategic Framework Agreement,” 12 July 2005, http://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/press_room/official_releases/nr/2005/jul/12jul05_nr/12jul05_fs.html#.VCs9zvldWSo.View all notes Singapore's significant investments in developing an advanced military—particularly its air force—are designed to enhance interoperability with US forces. Meanwhile, in 2011 the US Navy committed to forward-deploying Littoral Combat Ships (LCS)—part of the US strategic rebalance to the Asia–Pacific. The first LCS arrived in Singapore in 2013 to conduct patrols in the South China Sea, among other missions, and four LCS are scheduled for long-term rotational deployments by 2018.97“USN LCS Patrolled South China Sea during Deployment,” Jane's Defence Weekly, 7 January 2014; “US to Base Four warships in Singapore as China Flexes Military Muscles,” AFP, 17 February 2015.View all notes In 2012 the US 7th Fleet's Destroyer Squadron Seven was deployed to Singapore. To further deepen interoperability, both countries’ navies now engage in joint training operations in air defense, antisurface warfare, and antisubmarine warfare in the South China Sea.98Wong, “CARAT Singapore 2014.”View all notes In 2015, the two signed a joint enhanced-defense cooperation agreement, and acknowledged the first-ever deployment of US P-8 maritime surveillance aircraft to Singapore.99Wendell Minnick, “Singapore–US Agreement to Boost Defense Cooperation,” DefenseNews, 12 February 2016, http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/policy-budget/leaders/2015/12/08/singapore-us-agreement-boost-defense-cooperation/76980618/.View all notes

Vietnam

Albeit from a low base given its relatively small economy, Vietnam is adopting significant and accelerating measures to enhance its military capabilities, especially to confront maritime and aerial threats. Internally, Hanoi is ramping up defense spending—Stockholm International Peace Research Institute estimates 2015 levels, inflation-adjusted, at 2.5 times those of 2005.100SIPRI Military Expenditure Database, http://www.sipri.org/research/armaments/milex/milex_database.View all notes In the 2011–15 period, it moved from the world's 43rd- to 8th-largest arms importer, purchasing significant firepower from Moscow, including six advanced, ultraquiet Kilo-class submarines, six Gepard-class guided missile stealth frigates, three dozen advanced fighter aircraft (Su-30MK2), patrol boats and missile fast-attack ships, advanced antiship and land-attack cruise missiles, and coastal defense and missile systems.101Trefor Moss, “Vietnam Adds Military Muscle as South China Sea Tensions Escalate,” Wall Street Journal, 21 February 2016.View all notes To enhance its ability to carry out maritime missions, in mid-2013 Vietnam stood up a combined air force and navy brigade and is upgrading maritime law enforcement capabilities.102Murray Hiebert and Phuong Nguyen, “Vietnam Ramps Up Defense Spending, but Its Challenges Remain,” Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, 18 March 2015, http://amti.csis.org/vietnam-ramps-up-defense-spending-but-its-challenges-remain/.; Gareth Jennings, “Vietnam Stands Up New Air Force-Navy Brigade,” Jane's Defence Weekly50, no. 32 (10 July 2013).View all notes In January 2016, its Kilo-class submarines began patrolling the South China Sea.103Lindsay Murdoch, “South China Sea Dispute: Vietnamese Subs Deployed as Deterrent to China,” Sydney Morning Herald, 7 January 2016, http://www.smh.com.au/world/vietnamese-subs-deployed-to-south-china-sea-20160107-gm0z6a.html#ixzz45FafNday.View all notes

Concomitant with these internal efforts, Vietnam is deepening links with the United States—a recent adversary with which it fought a brutal war—and regional militaries. The pace of progress is remarkable. Hanoi and Washington recently conducted their first “navy-to-navy training engagement” since the Vietnam War.104Vice Admiral Scott Van Buskirk, “Remarks at Asia Society Hong Kong,” 21 February 2011.View all notes By 2015, earlier commitments to deepening military ties were expanded to include, inter alia, operational cooperation in a joint vision statement.105Prashanth Parameswaran, “US, Vietnam Deepen Defense Ties,” Diplomat, 5 June 2015.View all notes In response to Hanoi's overtures Washington has since offered funds to enhance Vietnam's maritime capabilities, including fast patrol boats and training. Following Washington's 2014 easing of a 1975 ban on the provision of lethal arms to Vietnam, Hanoi has reportedly held talks with United States and European contractors to buy fighter jets and other equipment.106“Vietnam wants Western warplanes to counter China,” Reuters, June 4, 2015, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-vietnam-airforce-exclusive-idUSKBN0OL04U20150605.View all notes Not coincidentally, the change applies to systems useful in maritime security and may allow Hanoi to acquire surplus US patrol and antisubmarine-warfare aircraft.107“US State Dept. Issues Language to Allow Defense Exports to Vietnam,” DefenseNews, 10 November 2014.View all notesWashington has even organized roadshows of US defense contractors to Vietnam. More generally, Vietnam has opened its deep water port in Cam Ranh Bay to foreign navies.108Amol Sharma et al., “Asia's New Arms Race,” Wall Street Journal, 12 February 2011.View all notesDuring a May 2016 visit to Hanoi, President Obama announced a full lifting of the ban on lethal weapons.109Gardiner Harris, “Vietnam Arms Embargo to Be Fully Lifted, Obama Says in Hanoi,” New York Times, 23 May 2016.View all notes

Vietnam appears to be particularly earnest about deepening engagement with US allies. In 2010 Hanoi and Canberra signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Defence Cooperation.110“Australia, Vietnam Signal Closer Defence Ties,” Jane's Defence Weekly50, no. 16 (20 March 2013).View all notes Building off a similar 2011 memorandum signed with Tokyo that created defense attaché offices in both countries and established formal Defense Policy Dialogue, in 2014 Japan and Vietnam upgraded their eight-year-old “strategic partnership” to that of an “extensive strategic partnership” designed to enhance bilateral defense cooperation, including high-level defense talks.111Jon Grevatt, “Japan, Vietnam Pave Way for Further Defence Collaboration,” Jane's Defence Weekly 51, no. 17.View all notes They also agreed to enhance maritime security cooperation, including Tokyo's unprecedented provision of patrol boats to Hanoi.112“Japan, Vietnam Criticize China for Instability in South China Sea,” Kyodo News, 22 May 2014.View all notes In April 2016, two MSDF destroyers and a submarine made a first-ever port call at Cam Ranh Bay. Hanoi has issued various joint statements with regional neighbors (including Japan and Australia) calling for freedom of navigation, overflight, prohibitions on threats or use of force in the South and East China Seas, and deepened naval ties with neighbors sharing territorial disputes with China, including assistance modernizing its navy from India.113Sanjeev Miglani, “India to Supply Vietnam with Naval Vessels amid China Disputes,” Reuters, 28 October 2014.View all notes Manila and Hanoi have also rapidly deepened defense cooperation, including Vietnam's first-ever defense policy dialogue with, and a port call by its two most powerful warships to, the Philippines. In November 2015 a joint statement focused on deepening maritime cooperation and defense and trade ties elevated their relationship to a “strategic partnership.”114“Vietnam Warships Visit Philippines Amid South China Sea Dispute,” Reuters, 25 November 2014; Ridzwan Rahmat, “Philippines, Vietnam Hold First Defence Policy Dialogue,” Jane's Defence Weekly 52, no. 22 (15 April 2015); Tessa Jamandre and Ellen Tordesillas, “Phl, Vietnam to Hold Naval Drills, Scientific Research in South China Sea,” Philippine Star, 23 April 2015; Simone Orendain, “Philippines, Vietnam Affirm United Front on S. China Sea,” Voice of America, 17 November 2015.View all notes In addition, the United States will soon begin implementing a Southeast Asia Maritime Security Initiative involving the Philippines, Vietnam, and others.

Step 2: Examining Underlying Causal Mechanisms

This section implements the second step of the proposed methodological framework, the objective of which is to judge whether the observed military policy outcomes uncovered in Step 1 are actually attributable to a perceived threat posed by China. The goal is to test for a link between the observed dependent variable outcome and the posited independent variable and causal mechanism. The analysis demonstrates that the MCE efforts of China's neighbors delineated in the above section appear to be driven significantly by deepening insecurity vis-à-vis China's growing military power and lack of transparency, as well as concrete concerns about specific policies and rhetoric, especially concerning disputed territory and waters. Practically significant balancing behavior is evident in all four cases; albeit to varying degrees.

Australia

Prime ministerial statements, intelligence assessments, and government publications suggest strongly that deepening concern about China's growing military capabilities, uncertainty about its intentions, and maritime and territorial disputes are major drivers of Canberra's internal and external efforts to bolster Australia's military capabilities and deepen ties with the US, Japan, and others. Asked about the “greatest threat to global security” in a 2015 interview, Turnbull referred to “the rise of China” and publicly called for both “careful diplomacy” and “balancing.”115John Garnaut, “Malcolm Turnbull Changes Direction on Foreign Policy: China Trumps the Islamic State Death Cult,” Age, 24 September 2015.View all notes Beijing has caught on, reportedly criticizing Australia's top diplomat during a spring 2012 China trip for deepening military ties with the United States and expressing “serious concern” about the 2016 Defense White Paper.116“Carr: China Concerned by Australia–US Military Ties,” BBC News, 15 May 2012; “China Angered by Australia Military Spending Boost,” BBC News, 25 February 2016.View all notes Canberra's expanding defense ties with Tokyo appear similarly driven by “the China factor.”117Ishihara, “The Case for Japan–Australia Defence Cooperation Guidelines,” 122.View all notes

Although the security policy shifts discussed above have accelerated in recent years, they are not new. In fact, in 2007 Australia's Defense Update expressed concern about “the pace and scope of [China's] military modernization, particularly the development of new and disruptive capabilities such as the antisatellite (ASAT) missile (tested in January 2007).”118Australia's National Security: A Defence Update 2007 (Australian Government: Department of Defence, 2007), 19.View all notes When the 2009 Defence White Paper was announced, Rudd told journalists that “a significant military and naval build-up across the Asia-Pacific region” needed to be a focus of Australia's defense planning. Meanwhile, the white paper itself expressed concern about the “pace, scope, and structure of China's military modernization.”119Simon Jenkins and Andrew Drummond, “Australia must be strong in Region—Rudd,” Australian Associated Press, 2 May 2009; Defending Australia in the Asia Pacific Century: Force 2030 (Defence White Paper 2009) (Australian Government: Department of Defence, 2009), 34.View all notes Meanwhile, a government intelligence assessment leaked in 2011 reportedly shows that Australia's Office of National Assessments, the Defence Intelligence Organisation, and the Defence and Foreign Affairs Departments reached a consensus that China's military modernization “already poses a credible threat to modern militaries operating in the region” and will pose “an even more formidable challenge” in the future. It warns that China's policies are “already altering the balance of power in Asia and could be a destabilizing influence.”120Philip Dorling, “Chinese Expansion Fears Revealed,” Sydney Morning Herald, 7 January 2011.View all notes The 2016 Defence White Paper calls on China to be “more transparent about its defense policies,” expresses opposition to China's behavior in the South and East China Seas and, in thinly veiled criticism of Beijing refers to challenges to the “rules-based global order” by “newly powerful countries.”1212016 Defence White Paper, 42, 45, 61.View all notes Meanwhile, military leaders have advocated Australian freedom of navigation operations there.122Sonawane, “US In Talks To Deploy B-1 Bombers.”View all notes

Japan

While in the 1990s a perceived threat posed by North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile programs loomed larger than China, Japan's leaders responded with trepidation to Chinese nuclear tests and the 1995–96 Taiwan Strait Crisis. Both concerns were reflected in a 1997 revision of US–Japan Guidelines for Defense Cooperation that expanded the alliance's mandate to “areas surrounding Japan.” In the new millennium, deepening concerns about China among policymakers and the public manifest increasingly. The objective reality of China's growing material power and lack of transparency are important drivers. Yet Beijing's specific policies and rhetoric—especially regarding its claims to the Senkaku/Diaoyudao Islands administered by Japan but claimed by both—are also significant causes of worsening threat perceptions vis-à-vis China today.

Japan's deepening concern is reflected increasingly in government documents and leader rhetoric over the past decade. The 2005 Defense White Paper expressed concern over China's military force levels, naval activities, and transparency, while its foreign minister called China a “considerable threat.” Additional statements followed in subsequent years.123James J. Przystup, The U.S.–Japan Alliance: Review of the Guidelines for Defense Cooperation, Strategic Perspectives 18 (Washington, DC: Institute for National Strategic Studies, March 2015), 13–15.View all notes More recently, defense white papers express concern about China's “assertive” behavior and “dangerous acts” (especially provocative policies in the East China Sea, such as air interdictions in Beijing's newly declared Air Defense Identification Zone), as well as its low military transparency, surging military spending, and the pace and scale of its military modernization.124Ministry of Defense (Japan), “Defense of Japan 2011,” http://www.mod.go.jp/e/publ/w_paper/2011.html; Ministry of Defense (Japan), “Defense of Japan 2014,” http://www.mod.go.jp/e/publ/w_paper/2014.html.View all notes The 2010 National Defense Program Guidelines (NDPG) identifies these factors as a “matter of concern for the region and the international community”125Ministry of Defense (Japan), “Heisei 23 Nendo Iko Ni Kakawaru Boei Keikaku No Taiko Ni Tsuite” [About the Post-2011 NDPG], 17 December 2010, http://www.mod.go.jp/j/approach/agenda/guideline/2011/taikou.html.View all notes and calls for force posture to be shifted away from the northern island of Hokkaido (that is, largely a legacy of Cold War-era fears of a possible Soviet invasion) toward Japan's southwestern islands—to ameliorate the JSDF's “deployment vacuum” (jieitai haibi no kuhaku chiiki) there.126Ibid.View all notes The 2013 NDPG similarly calls for Japan to bolster its future defense capabilities “to place priority on ensuring maritime and air superiority, which is the prerequisite for effective deterrence and response in various situations, including the defense posture buildup in the southwestern region.”127Ministry of Defense (Japan), “National Defense Program Guidelines for FY 2014 and Beyond (Summary),” 17 December 2013, http://www.mod.go.jp/j/approach/agenda/guideline/2014/pdf/20131217_e.pdf.View all notes Shifting JSDF force posture southwest and prioritizing air and maritime assets is designed to bolster deterrence and, if necessary, reduce reaction time—especially in a possible East China Sea contingency.

Tokyo clearly sees China's recent policies and weapons procurement trends as directly threatening. In a country whose main political opposition was staunchly opposed to efforts to enhance Japan's military capabilities for much of the post-1945 period, the fact that this perception is increasingly held across the political spectrum is significant. This emerging consensus manifested most powerfully during the latter half of the Democratic Party of Japan's (DPJ) three years in power (2009–2012). DPJ leaders repeatedly expressed concerns about specific Chinese capabilities (for example, its aircraft carrier program), and an increasingly uncertain security situation for Japan given, inter alia, repeated and frequent maritime activities of China in seas around it.128“Japan calls for China to explain aircraft carrier,” AFP, 12 August 2011; “Address by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda at the 2011 Air Review,” 16 October 2011, http://www.kantei.go.jp/foreign/noda/statement/201110/16kunji_e.html.View all notes In late 2012, Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto linked his call for the (since-announced) revision of the 1997 US–Japan Guidelines for Defense Cooperation to a perceived Chinese threat.129Martin Fackler, “Japan Aims to Revise Security Pact With U.S.,” New York Times, 9 November 2012.View all notes

The conservative Liberal Democratic Party's (LDP) return to power in December 2012, together with efforts by Beijing since September 2012 to assert its territorial claims on its maritime periphery widely seen in Japan as unprecedentedly provocative, appear to have caused a rapid deepening of threat perceptions and a significant uptick in concrete MCE efforts aimed at enhancing Japan's deterrence and warfighting capabilities. Leaders in both parties have linked key aspects of Japan's changing security policy directly to China's rise. The writing was on the wall during the 2012 intra-LDP election for party president, before its landslide general election victory that fall. For the first time, all five candidates took a hard line against China.130“LDP candidates Take Tough Line against China,” Kyodo News, 18 September 2012.View all notesMeasures adopted since Abe's victory demonstrate that as Japan's concerns about China deepen, internal and external MCE continue apace. The most recent (2015) white paper reiterates longstanding Japanese security concerns, including China's “military activities,” “lack of transparency in its military and security issues,” “military development,” “coercive attempts at changing the status quo,” and expresses concern about “dangerous acts” that could trigger a conflict.131Ministry of Defense (Japan), “Defense of Japan 2015,” 33–56, http://www.mod.go.jp/e/publ/w_paper/pdf/2015/DOJ2015_1-1-3_web.pdf.View all notes

Singapore

In recent years, primary strategic concerns of Singaporean leaders are China's long-term strategic intentions and the state of US–China relations. Pursuit of closer military ties with Washington as a hedge against regional instability is driven largely by concerns about China's rise and rapid military modernization.132Klingler-Vidra, “The Pragmatic ‘Little Red Dot’,” 67, 71–72.View all notes More recently, concerns about freedom of navigation, overflight, and China's land reclamation in the South China Sea appear to be deepening, reflected in the deployment of US LCS and the first-ever P-8 to Singapore. In a major 2015 speech, Prime Minister Lee Hsien long welcomed the US regional role as “benign,” identified the South China Sea as “a vital lifeline,” and expressed concern about a “shifting” strategic balance, criticizing Chinese activities as “unilateral assertions of sovereignty.”133Lee Hsien Loong, “Keynote Address” (presented at the IISS Shangri-la Dialogue, Singapore, 29 May 2015), https://www.iiss.org/en/events/shangri%20la%20dialogue/archive/shangri-la-dialogue-2015-862b/opening-remarks-and-keynote-address-6729/keynote-address-a51f.View all notes As a 2008 RAND Corporation study argued, Singapore sees Washington as the “principal stabilizer” in East Asia and the “only realistic counterweight to potential Chinese external assertiveness.”134Medeiros et al., Pacific Currents, 185–86.View all notes

While pursuing engagement with Beijing and reluctant to explicitly call China a “threat” in public discourse, Singaporean leaders remain uncertain about China's intentions.135Cai, “Hedging for Maximum Flexibility,” 3.View all notes In the event of a conflict, Singapore could not deter China singlehandedly despite internal MCE efforts. Consequently, it combines proactive economic engagement of Beijing and efforts to deepen military ties with third parties, in particular America, but also Japan, Britain, and others, as a hedge against uncertainty.136Medeiros et al., Pacific Currents, 185–86; Klingler-Vidra, “Pragmatic ‘Little Red Dot’,” 67, 70–72; Cai, “Hedging for Maximum Flexibility.”View all notes Its goal is to maintain a regional balance of power to support stability and region-wide economic development.137Medeiros et al., Pacific Currents, 185–86.View all notes

Vietnam

Severe frictions between Vietnam and China over conflicting claims to territory and resources in the South China Sea increasingly make global headlines. Although the disputes are longstanding—bloody military clashes occurred between Hanoi and Beijing in the 1970s and 1980s—circumstances appear increasingly volatile. Vietnam's leaders are reducing ground force personnel and reallocating funds to support costly investments in more effective deterrents: expensive, technologically advanced air and naval platforms. Hanoi's rapidly growing defense budget, its procurements of Kilo-class submarines, advanced fighters, and other capabilities from Russia specifically to enhance its ability to fight in contested maritime and air domains, together with efforts to establish and consolidate closer military ties with major powers within and outside the region, appears to be driven primarily by a perceived threat from an increasingly powerful China. China's provocative towing in May 2014 of a massive oil rig in waters Vietnam considers part of its exclusive economic zone catalyzed anti-China riots and unprecedented outreach to Washington. There were reportedly calls for a Central Committee meeting to discuss a formal alliance with Washington. Though this did not happen, Hanoi did invite the top Asia expert at Obama's National Security Council to Vietnam in July. In 2015, half of Vietnam's Politburo visited Washington, while six US cabinet-level officials visited Hanoi.138Simon Denyer, “China's Assertiveness Pushes Vietnam toward an Old Foe, the United States” Washington Post, 28 December 2015.View all notes

Hanoi's aforementioned MCE efforts have focused on modernizing naval and air power to enhance sea-denial capabilities and counterintervention capabilities. They appear driven largely by China's growing power and its policies toward the disputed Spratly and Paracel Islands, and the threat those policies pose to what leaders in Hanoi identify as Vietnamese sovereignty and interests.139Moss, “Vietnam Adds Military Muscle.”View all notes These efforts have accelerated in recent years. Vietnam's 2011 maritime strategy identified protection of maritime sovereignty as a key national security pillar.140Hiebert and Nguyen, “Vietnam Ramps Up Defense Spending.”View all notes In a major shift and investment in deterrence and beyond a focus on antiship capabilities, Vietnam is arming its submarine fleet with Russian-made precision land-attack missiles capable of hitting China's coastal cities.141Greg Torode, “Vietnam Buys Submarine-Launched Land Attack Missiles to Deter China,” Reuters, 30 April 2015.View all notes Hanoi's concerns appear to be shared by other regional states, many of which are deepening ties with Vietnam. Indeed, in 2014 leaders from Vietnam, the United States, Japan, the Philippines, and several other countries publicly criticized China for its recent policies vis-à-vis territorial disputes in the South China Sea.142Kristine Kwok, “Japan, Vietnam Criticize China,”; “Vietnam Edges Closer to Old US Foe as Maritime Dispute with China Heats Up,” South China Morning Post, 30 May 2014.View all notesPresident Truong Tan Sang's stated objectives for opening Cam Ranh, a strategic port, in March 2016 to foreign militaries (including the United States and Japan) was “stabilizing regional peace.”143Trung Nguyen, “In Vietnam, Calls for US-Led Naval Initiative in South China Sea.” VoA, 9 March 2016. http://www.voanews.com/content/calls-naval-initiative-south-china-sea-support-vietnam/3227908.html.View all notes He identifies deepening ties with other neighbors (for example, the Philippines) as driven by common concern about China.144Orendain, “Philippines, Vietnam Affirm United Front on S. China Sea.”View all notes

DISCUSSION

The preceding analysis demonstrates how different methodologies can lead scholars to categorically different conclusions about the presence of balancing behavior in a given strategic context. Contrary to the studies discussed in the section on problematic metrics and causal inferences, application to the contemporary Asia–Pacific of the analytical framework introduced in this study reveals balancing behavior among secondary states on China's periphery. This finding is based on extensive consideration of measures states are adopting to enhance effective military capabilities internally and externally in response to perceived threats, strategic context, and the causal mechanisms actually driving observable policy changes. The pace and scale of balancing varies across countries, but in all cases it appears to be practically significant and accelerating. To be sure, some of these efforts start from a low base and may confront domestic political and economic headwinds going forward. But they are nevertheless practically important in terms of both diplomatic signaling and operational significance—both factors affecting deterrence.

Beyond the traditional, largely quantitative metrics of defense spending, number of personnel/platforms, and new treaty alliance formation, the empirical survey reveals manifold additional measures of internal and external force development and employment—some conspicuous, others less so—that states today adopt to significantly enhance military capabilities. For example, qualitative improvements to force structure or doctrine, and shifts in force posture to deter or confront changing threats more effectively, efficiently, and expeditiously can be significant symptoms of what has traditionally been labeled internal balancing. Paradoxically, even decreases in certain types of personnel or platforms can, too. The key factor is strategic context—specifically, the nature of the perceived threat (for example, land versus maritime domain). Given rapid changes to military technology and the Asia–Pacific being a largely maritime theater, force development and employment metrics introduced in Table 2 appear to be far more consequential for a state's ability to effectively balance against China than, say, maintaining or expanding a massive but technologically backward land army. To be sure, traditional metrics for measuring internal balancing, such as defense spending trends, can be important measures of MCE. But as with any metrics, they are best employed critically, and never in isolation.

As for external balancing, this study's findings suggest that traditionally selective treatment of a few conspicuous, quantitative measures (for example, permanently stationed US military personnel or new mutual defense pact formation) as necessary, much less sufficient, conditions is problematic. These metrics offer at best an incomplete picture of practically significant, 21st-century-relevant external MCE. Indeed, specific to the contemporary Asia–Pacific it is precisely in response to China's changing force structure that, in cooperation with its regional allies, the US military increasingly focuses on “places, not bases.” And the region's advanced economies most capable of confronting China (Australia and Japan) already enjoy longstanding security alliances with Washington. Incorporating MCE typically overlooked by traditional approaches, however, reveals significant military balancing and diplomatic signaling. Regional allies are actively deepening military ties with Washington to enhance deterrence, crisis management, and, if necessary, interoperability in an actual conflict. Meanwhile, various states—US allies and non-allies—are expanding informal and formal security ties both with the United States and among one another. Such MCE are practically significant manifestations of balancing behavior.

WHITHER THE (CHINA) BALANCERS? TOWARD A METHODOLOGICAL RESET

Even when taken back to its traditional, hard military roots, balancing remains a useful concept through which to understand contemporary international relations. This holds even in a globalized world characterized by extensive economic and security interdependence.

This article highlights several methodological issues prevalent in the balancing literature and largely present at creation, including employment of vague, often inconsistent definitions and concept creep; a tendency to analytical privilege one or a few of the most conspicuous, often easily quantifiable metrics while overlooking other practically significant MCE efforts relevant for a given strategic context; and conclusions drawn from a survey of outcomes without clear evidence of causal links between posited cause (perceived threats) and observed outcome. In an effort to ameliorate these issues, it calls for a methodological reset and standardization of disparate associated approaches. It proposes an alternative, easily replicable analytical framework through which to refine and empirically test balancing theory more effectively. It also suggests that scholars move beyond the amorphous, often under-specified categories of internal and external balancing and instead reorient focus toward the more analytically tractable and operationally relevant categories of internal and external force development and force employment. Though focused on balancing theory specifically, this basic approach, and its MCE metrics in particular, should be generally applicable to related phenomena in international security studies.

To the extent that recent critiques of the balancing literature contend that developments post-Cold War reveal flaws in structurally deterministic strands of realist balance of power theory, they will find no major pushback here. Furthermore, observations that regional states seek to maintain positive political and economic relations with Beijing in self-interest, that the degree of balancing behavior in the Asia–Pacific today varies across cases, or that military competition at present pales in comparison to more extreme forms from, say, the arms races of a century ago, are valid and significant in both theoretical and practical terms.145For related arguments, see Evelyn Goh, “Great Powers and Hierarchical Order in Southeast Asia: Analyzing Regional Security Strategies,” International Security 32, No. 3 (Winter 2007/2008): 113–57; Darren J. Lim, and Zack Cooper, “Reassessing Hedging: The Logic of Alignment in East Asia,” Security Studies 24, no. 4 (October–December 2015): 696–727; Adam P. Liff and G. John Ikenberry, “Racing toward Tragedy?: China's Rise, Military Competition in the Asia Pacific, and the Security Dilemma,” International Security 39, no. 2 (Fall 2014): 52–91.View all notes Nevertheless, the available evidence supports neither the idea that balancing theory is irrelevant for 21st-century international relations, nor case-specific claims that key Asia–Pacific states are accommodating, much less bandwagoning with China. Rather, they are adopting operationally significant military policy shifts in response to perceived threats. One does not need to engage in concept stretching to uncover internal and external military balancing against Beijing. Indeed, core concepts employed in this study—both balancing itself and the descriptive categories of internal and external force development and employment—remain faithful to the spirit of hard balancing as originally conceived: military policy responses to perceived external military threats. They also avoid baking into MCE category labels an assumption that any manifestation of associated metrics is necessarily evidence of balancing behavior. Indeed, without extensive examination of underlying causal mechanisms, such claims would be premature.

To say that key Asia–Pacific states are engaging in balancing behavior is not to say that they are attempting to “contain China's peaceful rise”—a meme pervading Chinese government and popular discourse on other states’ rhetoric and military policies toward Beijing.146An authoritative PLA textbook claims Japan's recent policies are aimed at “active containment” (zhudong ezhi). See Zhanluexue [The Science of Military Strategy] (Beijing: AMS Press, 2013), 62. See also Guojia Anquan Lanpishu [Blue Book on National Security] (Beijing: Social Sciences Academic Press, 2014), 1–2.View all notes Indeed, since 1978 the two other most materially powerful regional players—the United States and Japan—have done more to facilitate China's development and integration into the international order than any others. But in response to China's growing power and, increasingly, specific policies widely seen as provocative in Washington, Tokyo, and across the region, they are still balancing against perceived threats both concrete and abstract. These measures constitute balancing, not containment. MCE adopted in an effort to balance against China appear to be contingent; reactions to specific policies and rhetoric seen as threatening, coupled with significant uncertainty surrounding China's future course. Both factors are exacerbated by Beijing's opaque decision-making process and relatively low military transparency, and the extent to which a security dilemma is at play is heavily debated.147Liff and Ikenberry, “Racing toward Tragedy?”View all notes Yet the contingent nature of these MCE suggests that the scope and pace of secondary state balancing is not structurally determined. Whether sufficient interest or political will exists to significantly mitigate the drivers of ongoing regional military competition, however, remains to be seen.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The author thanks Thomas Christensen, Zack Cooper, Andrew Erickson, Alexander Lanoszka, Stacie Pettyjohn, Wallace Thies, and Joel Wuthnow for comments on earlier drafts. He also thanks the reviewers and editors at Security Studies for their insightful feedback.

Notes

“Transcript of the Third Presidential Debate,” New York Times, 22 October 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/22/us/politics/transcript-of-the-third-presidential-debate-in-boca-raton-fla.html.

Ibid.

Micah Zenko, “Republicans Won't Stop Saying Our Military is Weak,” Foreignpolicy.com, 18 February 2016, http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/02/18/republicans-wont-stop-saying-our-military-is-weak/.

James Holmes, “Sinking the Next-13-Navies Fallacy,” WarOnTheRocks, 10 July 2014, http://warontherocks.com/2014/07/sinking-the-next-13-navies-fallacy/.

Stephen Biddle demonstrates that the standard metrics for military effectiveness permeating the theoretical literature predict real military outcomes “no better than coin flips.” He warns against overreliance on simple but often misleading measures of military capabilities. Stephen Biddle, Military Power: Explaining Victory and Defeat in Modern Battle (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004). For other seminal works in related literatures, see Allan R. Millett, Williamson Murray, and Kenneth H. Watman, “The Effectiveness of Military Organizations,” International Security 11, no. 1 (Summer 1986): 37–71; Stephen Peter Rosen, “Military Effectiveness: Why Society Matters,” International Security 19, no. 4 (Spring 1995): 5–31; Allan R. Millett and Williamson Murray, eds., Military Effectiveness 3 vols., 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010). More recently, see Risa A. Brooks and Elizabeth A. Stanley, eds., Creating Military Power: The Sources of Military Effectiveness (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2007); Keir A. Lieber, “Mission Impossible: Measuring the Offense–Defense Balance with Military Net Assessment,” Security Studies 20, no. 3 (July–September 2011): 451–59.

David C. Kang, “Hierarchy, Balancing, and Empirical Puzzles in Asian International Relations,” International Security 28, no. 3 (Winter 2003/04): 165–80; David C. Kang, “Getting Asia Wrong: The Need for New Analytical Frameworks,” International Security 27, no. 4 (Spring 2003): 57–85; David C. Kang, “Why China's Rise Will Be Peaceful: Hierarchy and Stability in the East Asian Region,” Perspectives on Politics 3, no. 3 (September 2005): 551–54; David C Kang, China Rising: Peace, Power, and Order in East Asia (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007), chap. 3; David Kang, “Paper Tiger,” Foreign Policy, 25 April 2013, http://foreignpolicy.com/2013/04/25/paper-tiger/.; David C. Kang, “A Looming Arms Race in East Asia?” National Interest, 14 May 2014, http://nationalinterest.org/feature/looming-arms-race-east-asia-10461.; Robert S. Ross, “Balance of Power Politics and the Rise of China: Accommodation and Balancing in East Asia,” Security Studies 15, no. 3 (July–September 2006): 355–95; Steve Chan, “An Odd Thing Happened on the Way to Balancing: East Asian States’ Reactions to China's Rise,” International Studies Review 12, no. 3 (September 2010): 387–412; Steve Chan, Looking for Balance: China, the United States, and Power Balancing in East Asia (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2012), chap. 3. Most recently, see Ronan Tse-min Fu's contribution to Ronan Tse-min Fu et al., “Correspondence: Looking for Asia's Security Dilemma,” International Security 40, no. 2 (Fall 2015): 181–204.

Stephen G. Brooks and William C. Wohlforth, “Hard Times for Soft Balancing,” International Security 30, no. 1 (Summer 2005): 72–108.

Kenneth N. Waltz, Theory of International Politics (Reading, MA: Addison–Wesley Pub. Co., 1979).

Ibid., 118.

Thomas J. Christensen and Jack Snyder, “Chain Gangs and Passed Bucks: Predicting Alliance Patterns in Multipolarity,” International Organization 44, no. 2 (Spring 1990): 137–68.

Stephen M. Walt, The Origins of Alliances (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1987).

See Paul Schroeder, “Historical Reality vs. Neo-Realist Theory,” International Security 19, no. 1 (Summer 1994): 108–48; Randall L. Schweller, “Bandwagoning for Profit: Bringing the Revisionist State Back In,” International Security 19, no. 1 (Summer 1994): 72–107; William C. Wohlforth et al., “Testing Balance-of-Power Theory in World History,” European Journal of International Relations 13, no. 2 (June 2007): 155–85.

Even Waltz wrote that the absence of balancing against the US hegemon is an “unnatural” condition. Kenneth N. Waltz, “Structural Realism after the Cold War,” International Security 25, no. 1 (Summer 2000): 56. See also T. V. Paul, James J. Wirtz, and Michel Fortmann, eds., Balance of Power: Theory and Practice in the 21st Century (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2004); William C. Wohlforth, “The Stability of a Unipolar World,” International Security 24, no. 1 (Summer 1999): 5–41.

See Robert A. Pape, “Soft Balancing against the United States,” International Security 30, no. 1 (Summer 2005), 10; Paul, Wirtz, and Fortmann, Balance of Power.

Brooks and Wohlforth, “Hard Times for Soft Balancing,” 107; Stephen G. Brooks and William C. Wohlforth, “Brooks and Wohlforth Reply,” International Security 30, no. 3 (Winter 2005/06): 191; Stuart J. Kaufman, Richard Little, and William C. Wohlforth, eds., The Balance of Power in World History (Houndmills, Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), 3.

See Brooks and Wohlforth, “Hard Times for Soft Balancing,” 75. For more on this debate, see Paul, Wirtz, and Fortmann, Balance of Power; Pape, “Soft Balancing”; Robert J. Art et al., “Correspondence: Striking the Balance,” International Security 30, no. 3 (2006): 177–85; Brooks and Wohlforth, “Brooks and Wohlforth Reply”; Keir A. Lieber and Gerard Alexander, “Lieber and Alexander Reply,” International Security 30, no. 3 (2005/06): 191–96.

Thomas J. Christensen, “Chinese Realpolitik: Reading Beijing's Worldview,” Foreign Affairs 75, no. 5 (September–October 1996): 37.

Adam P. Liff, “China and the U.S. Alliance System,” (working paper, Indiana University, 2016).

Reid J. Epstein, “John Kerry to Travel to Ukraine,” Politico, 2 March 2014, http://www.politico.com/story/2014/03/john-kerry-russia-ukraine-104140_Page2.html.; “Russian Defense Budget to Hit Record $81 Billion in 2015,” Moscow Times, 16 October 2014; “US Military Spending Falls, Increases in Eastern Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia Says SIPRI,” SIPRI, 13 April 2015, http://www.sipri.org/media/pressreleases/2015/milex-april-2015.; Andrew Rettman, “Nordic Pact Heightens Tension with Russia,” EUObserver, 13 April 2015, https://euobserver.com/foreign/128297.

Waltz, Theory of International Politics, 118.

Keir Lieber and Gerard Alexander note that “loose standards” have allowed scholars “to code as balancing against a certain power action that is clearly not directed at that power.” Lieber and Alexander, “Lieber and Alexander Reply,” 194.

Several studies admittedly predate the acceleration of balancing behavior since 2010 (see “Empirical Analysis: Secondary State Responses to China's Rise” below). Nevertheless, stated rationales for why balancing had/would not occur are either unrelated to material forces or predict the categorically opposite outcome as China grows more powerful—that is, increasing accommodation.

See footnote 6.

Chan, “An Odd Thing,” 398, 401.

For relevant definitions, see Kang, China Rising, 51, 53. See also Kang, “Why China's Rise Will Be Peaceful,” 552.

Many historical examples of states with tense or even adversarial relationships that nevertheless cooperated in other domains exist. For example, Britain cooperated with Germany throughout the 1930s while simultaneously engaging in a military buildup aimed at balancing against it. Art, “Correspondence: Striking the Balance,” 180. For a more general argument, see Peter Liberman, “Trading with the Enemy: Security and Relative Economic Gains,” International Security 21, no. 1 (Summer 1996): 147–75.

As then-Australian Defense Minister Stephen Smith argued, “there's no inconsistency between a military alliance … with the United States and a comprehensive bilateral relationship with China.” “Australia Insists China is ‘measured’ on US Troops,” Agence France-Presse, 21 November 2011. Trade relations do not necessarily mean Australia is unconcerned about China; nor does Canberra balancing militarily preclude efforts to engage in mutually beneficial commerce.

See Chan, “An Odd Thing”; Chan, Looking for Balance, chap. 3; and Kang, “Paper Tiger”; Kang, “Looming Arms Race?”

Chan, “An Odd Thing” and Chan, Looking for Balance, chap. 3.

Adam P. Liff and Andrew S. Erickson, “Demystifying China's Defence Spending: Less Mysterious in the Aggregate,” China Quarterly 216 (December 2013): 805–30.

Kang, “Paper Tiger” and Chan, Looking for Balance, chap. 3.

For related critique and rebuttal, see Fu-Liff/Ikenberry exchange in Fu, et al. “Correspondence,” 181–86, 196–98.

Kang, China Rising, chap. 3.

Chan, “An Odd Thing,” 399–401.

Geoff Dyer, “US Spreads Military Presence across Asia,” Financial Times, 28 April 2014, http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/52b9edbe-ce25-11e3-bc28-00144feabdc0.html#axzz47EAitBoD.

Chan, Looking for Balance, chap. 3.

Liff and Erickson, “Demystifying,” 809–12.

Thomas J. Christensen, “Posing Problems without Catching Up: China's Rise and Challenges for U.S. Security Policy,” International Security 25, no. 4 (Spring 2001): 5–40.

Ronald O’Rourke, “China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities—Background and Issues for Congress,” Congressional Research Service, 31 March 2016, 5–6.

Ryan D. Martinson, “China's Second Navy,” Proceedings Magazine, 141 (April 2015), http://www.usni.org/print/61711.

Office of the Secretary of Defense, Annual Report to Congress: Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China 2015, (Office of the Secretary of Defense, 2015).

For a critique of the “assertiveness meme,” see Alastair Iain Johnston, “How New and Assertive Is China's New Assertiveness?” International Security 37, no. 4 (Spring 2013): 7–48.

Liff, “China and the U.S. Alliance System.”

If the observed realization of the dependent variable is one, then Step 2 will search for evidence that it is in fact driven by the causal mechanism of interest—a perceived threat from China.

“Australia's 20-year Defence White Paper Covers Most of the Bases,” Jane's Defence Weekly, 6 May 2009.

Mark Thomson, “Deciphering Australia's Defense Budget,” Asia Pacific Bulletin 215 (23 May 2013).

2016 Defence White Paperhttp://www.defence.gov.au/whitepaper/Docs/2016-Defence-White-Paper.pdf.

“Australia Calls for Stronger US Ties to Support Modernisation,” Jane's Defence Weekly, 19 March 2010.

Viola Glenger, “Cyber Attack Threats Raised to U.S., Australia Treaty Status,” Bloomberg, 15 September 2011; “Australia–United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) 2011 Joint Communiqué,” http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2011/09/172517.htm.

Ian McPherdran, “US Eyes Base in State's Outback,” Advertiser, 29 July 2011.

“Remarks By President Obama to the Australian Parliament,” 17 November 2011, http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/11/17/remarks-president-obama-australian-parliament.

Vishaka Sonawane, “US In Talks To Deploy B-1 Bombers, Expand B-52 Missions In Australia amid Growing Tensions in South China Sea,” International Business Times, 9 March 2016. http://www.ibtimes.com/us-talks-deploy-b-1-bombers-expand-b-52-missions-australia-amid-growing-tensions-2332981.

Evan S. Medeiros et al., Pacific Currents: The Responses of U.S. Allies and Security Partners in East Asia to China's Rise (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2008), 213–4.

“AUSMIN 2011 Joint Communiqué.”

“Australia and Japan Conduct First Joint Air Operations,” Jane's Defence Weekly, 28 July 2011.

“Australia Defends Security Deal with Japan,” AFP, 8 April 2014.

Yusuke Fukui, “Japan Moves to Make Australia ‘Quasi-Ally’ in National Security,” Asahi Shimbun, 10 November 2014.

Yusuke Ishihara, “The Case for Japan–Australia Defence Cooperation Guidelines,” Strategist, 6 May 2015, http://www.aspistrategist.org.au/the-case-for-japan-australia-defence-cooperation-guidelines/.

“Abe, Turnbull Affirm Opposition to South China Sea Buildup,” Nikkei, 19 December 2015.

Adam P. Liff, “Japan's Defense Policy: Abe the Evolutionary,” Washington Quarterly, 38, no. 2 (Summer 2015): 79–99.

Ministry of Defense (Japan), “Defense Activities,” http://www.mod.go.jp/e/d_act/d_policy/national.html.

“GSDF May Permanently Station Hundreds of Troops on Okinawan Island,” Asahi Shimbun, 27 April 2015.

Ministry of Defense (Japan), Defense Programs and Budget of Japan: Overview of FY2010 Budget, 6, http://www.mod.go.jp/e/d_budget/pdf/220416.pdf. In 2005, it was announced that the government had prepared a plan to defend Japan's southwest from possible invasion by dispatching a joint JSDF force spearheaded by 55,000 JGSDF troops. “Defense plan prepared for remote islands,” Japan Times, 16 January 2005.

Richard J. Samuels, “‘New Fighting Power!’ Japan's Growing Maritime Capabilities and East Asian Security,” International Security 32, no. 3 (Winter 2007/08): 84–112; Yoko Masuda, “The Race to Beef Up Japan's Coast Guard,” Japan Real Time—WSJ, 27 October 2012, http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2012/10/27/the-race-to-beef-up-japans-coast-guard/?mod=WSJBlogtab/print/.

Chuki Boeiryoku Seibi Keikaku (Heisei 26nendo–Heisei 30nendo) Ni Tsuite [Concerning the Mid-term Defense Program (2014–2018)] (Tokyo: Japanese Ministry of Defense, 2013), http://www.mod.go.jp/j/approach/agenda/guideline/2014/pdf/chuki_seibi26-30.pdf.

“Japan to Boost Defense in Response to PLA Drills in West Pacific,” Want China Times, 6 January 2015.

Tony Perry and Bruce Wallace, “Japanese Troops Shore Up Skills,” Los Angeles Times, 13 January 2006; “Exercise Cope North Focuses Enhances Japan, U.S. Operations,” Andersen Air Force Base, 25 January 2009, http://www.andersen.af.mil/News/tabid/1981/Article/415957/exercise-cope-north-focuses-enhances-japan-us-operations.aspx.; Sean Martin, “U.S., Japanese Airmen train for Red Flag-Alaska,” U.S. Air Force, 20 May 2010, http://www.af.mil/News/ArticleDisplay/tabid/223/Article/116607/us-japanese-airmen-train-for-red-flag-alaska.aspx.

Emma Chanlett-Avery, The U.S.-Japan Alliance, (Washington, D.C: Congressional Research Service, 18 January 2011), 12.

For the common strategic objectives, see Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Japan), “Joint Statement US–Japan Security Consultative Committee,” http://www.mofa.go.jp/region/n-america/us/security/scc/joint0502.html.; for the “realignment roadmap,” see Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Japan), “United States–Japan Roadmap for Realignment Implementation,” http://www.mofa.go.jp/region/n-america/us/security/scc/doc0605.html.

Joseph Coleman, “U.S., Japan Expand Missile-Defense Plan,” Washington Post, 23 June 2006.

Sheila A. Smith, “Reinterpreting Japan's Constitution,” Asia Unbound, 2 July 2014, http://blogs.cfr.org/asia/2014/07/02/reinterpreting-japans-constitution/.

Adam P. Liff, “Japan's Defense Policy.”

“The Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation” (27 April 2015), http://www.mod.go.jp/e/d_act/anpo/pdf/shishin_20150427e.pdf.

“Japan Links Australian Submarine Bid to Regional Security,” AFP, 22 November 2015.

Ministry of Defense (Japan), “Nikkan Boeisho Kaidan No Gaiyo [Outline of Japan-ROK Defense Minister's Discussion],” June 4, 2011), http://www.mod.go.jp/j/press/youjin/2011/06/04f.pdf. As of this writing, political contretemps over history issues have prevented its fruition, however.

“Largest Joint US–Japan Naval Drills Start,” Jane's Defence Weekly, 3 December 2010. Recent political tensions over historical issues, however, have frozen progress.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (MOFA), “Joint Statement on the Advancement of the Strategic and Global Partnership between Japan and India,” 22 October 2008, http://www.mofa.go.jp/region/asia-paci/india/pmv0810/joint_s.html.

“Japan, India to up Economy, Security Ties,” Yomiuri Shimbun, 3 September 2014.

Niharika Mandhana, “U.S., India, Japan Plan Joint Naval Exercises Near South China Sea,” Wall Street Journal, 3 March 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-india-japan-plan-joint-naval-exercises-near-south-china-sea-1457010828.

MOFA (Japan), “Japan–Philippines Joint Declaration: A Strengthened Strategic Partnership for Advancing the Shared Principles and Goals of Peace, Security, and Growth in the Region and Beyond,” 4 June 2015. http://www.mofa.go.jp/s_sa/sea2/ph/page4e_000280.html.

Trefor Moss, “U.S. Set to Deploy Troops to Philippines in Rebalancing Act,” Wall Street Journal, 20 March 2016.

“Philippine Leader Backs Larger Japan Military Role,” Associated Press, 24 June 2014.

“Japan Says South China Sea Security Impacts National Interests,” Reuters, 4 February 2015, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-southchinasea-japan-idUSKBN0L80JZ20150204.

Robyn Klingler-Vidra, The Pragmatic ‘Little Red Dot’: Singapore's US Hedge against China (London: London School of Economics, 2012), 67; 71–72.

Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, “ASEAN-US Relations: Challenges” (Speech presented at the Asia Society, Singapore, 7 September 2000), http://asiasociety.org/asean-us-relations-challenges.

Medeiros et al., Pacific Currents, 185–86.

Ali Mustafa, “Singapore: Small State, Big Weapons Buyer,” Al Jazeera, 28 March 2014, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2014/03/singapore-small-state-big-arms-purchases-2014320922191312.html.

Kelvin Wong, “Singapore Announces Latest Defence Acquisition Plans,” Jane's Defence Weekly52, no. 16 4 (March 2015).

James Hardy and London Lindsay Peacock, “Singapore Quietly Expanding F-15 Fleet,” Jane's Defence Weekly 51, no. 39 (20 August 2014).

“Singapore Announces SGD12.56 Billion Defence Budget,” Jane's Defence Weekly, 25 February 2014.

Mustafa, “Singapore: Small State, Big Weapons Buyer.”

Embassy of the United States Singapore, “Navy Region Center Singapore,” http://singapore.usembassy.gov/nrcs.html.

Kelvin Wong, “CARAT Singapore 2014 Highlights Greater Interoperability between Singapore and US Navies,” Jane's Defence Weekly 51, no. 36 (30 July 2014).

CPT Dexian Cai, “Hedging for Maximum Flexibility: Singapore's Pragmatic Approach to Security Relations with the US and China,” Pointer: Journal of the Singapore Armed Forces 39, no. 2 (2013), 3.

Ministry of Defense (Singapore), “Factsheet—The Strategic Framework Agreement,” 12 July 2005, http://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/press_room/official_releases/nr/2005/jul/12jul05_nr/12jul05_fs.html#.VCs9zvldWSo.

“USN LCS Patrolled South China Sea during Deployment,” Jane's Defence Weekly, 7 January 2014; “US to Base Four warships in Singapore as China Flexes Military Muscles,” AFP, 17 February 2015.

Wong, “CARAT Singapore 2014.”

Wendell Minnick, “Singapore–US Agreement to Boost Defense Cooperation,” DefenseNews, 12 February 2016, http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/policy-budget/leaders/2015/12/08/singapore-us-agreement-boost-defense-cooperation/76980618/.

SIPRI Military Expenditure Database, http://www.sipri.org/research/armaments/milex/milex_database.

Trefor Moss, “Vietnam Adds Military Muscle as South China Sea Tensions Escalate,” Wall Street Journal, 21 February 2016.

Murray Hiebert and Phuong Nguyen, “Vietnam Ramps Up Defense Spending, but Its Challenges Remain,” Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, 18 March 2015, http://amti.csis.org/vietnam-ramps-up-defense-spending-but-its-challenges-remain/.; Gareth Jennings, “Vietnam Stands Up New Air Force-Navy Brigade,” Jane's Defence Weekly 50, no. 32 (10 July 2013).

Lindsay Murdoch, “South China Sea Dispute: Vietnamese Subs Deployed as Deterrent to China,” Sydney Morning Herald, 7 January 2016, http://www.smh.com.au/world/vietnamese-subs-deployed-to-south-china-sea-20160107-gm0z6a.html#ixzz45FafNday.

Vice Admiral Scott Van Buskirk, “Remarks at Asia Society Hong Kong,” 21 February 2011.

Prashanth Parameswaran, “US, Vietnam Deepen Defense Ties,” Diplomat, 5 June 2015.

“Vietnam wants Western warplanes to counter China,” Reuters, June 4, 2015, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-vietnam-airforce-exclusive-idUSKBN0OL04U20150605.

“US State Dept. Issues Language to Allow Defense Exports to Vietnam,” DefenseNews, 10 November 2014.

Amol Sharma et al., “Asia's New Arms Race,” Wall Street Journal, 12 February 2011.

Gardiner Harris, “Vietnam Arms Embargo to Be Fully Lifted, Obama Says in Hanoi,” New York Times, 23 May 2016.

“Australia, Vietnam Signal Closer Defence Ties,” Jane's Defence Weekly 50, no. 16 (20 March 2013).

Jon Grevatt, “Japan, Vietnam Pave Way for Further Defence Collaboration,” Jane's Defence Weekly 51, no. 17.

“Japan, Vietnam Criticize China for Instability in South China Sea,” Kyodo News, 22 May 2014.

Sanjeev Miglani, “India to Supply Vietnam with Naval Vessels amid China Disputes,” Reuters, 28 October 2014.

“Vietnam Warships Visit Philippines Amid South China Sea Dispute,” Reuters, 25 November 2014; Ridzwan Rahmat, “Philippines, Vietnam Hold First Defence Policy Dialogue,” Jane's Defence Weekly 52, no. 22 (15 April 2015); Tessa Jamandre and Ellen Tordesillas, “Phl, Vietnam to Hold Naval Drills, Scientific Research in South China Sea,” Philippine Star, 23 April 2015; Simone Orendain, “Philippines, Vietnam Affirm United Front on S. China Sea,” Voice of America, 17 November 2015.

John Garnaut, “Malcolm Turnbull Changes Direction on Foreign Policy: China Trumps the Islamic State Death Cult,” Age, 24 September 2015.

“Carr: China Concerned by Australia–US Military Ties,” BBC News, 15 May 2012; “China Angered by Australia Military Spending Boost,” BBC News, 25 February 2016.

Ishihara, “The Case for Japan–Australia Defence Cooperation Guidelines,” 122.

Australia's National Security: A Defence Update 2007 (Australian Government: Department of Defence, 2007), 19.

Simon Jenkins and Andrew Drummond, “Australia must be strong in Region—Rudd,” Australian Associated Press, 2 May 2009; Defending Australia in the Asia Pacific Century: Force 2030 (Defence White Paper 2009) (Australian Government: Department of Defence, 2009), 34.

Philip Dorling, “Chinese Expansion Fears Revealed,” Sydney Morning Herald, 7 January 2011.

2016 Defence White Paper, 42, 45, 61.

Sonawane, “US In Talks To Deploy B-1 Bombers.”

James J. Przystup, The U.S.–Japan Alliance: Review of the Guidelines for Defense Cooperation, Strategic Perspectives 18 (Washington, DC: Institute for National Strategic Studies, March 2015), 13–15.

Ministry of Defense (Japan), “Defense of Japan 2011,” http://www.mod.go.jp/e/publ/w_paper/2011.html; Ministry of Defense (Japan), “Defense of Japan 2014,” http://www.mod.go.jp/e/publ/w_paper/2014.html.

Ministry of Defense (Japan), “Heisei 23 Nendo Iko Ni Kakawaru Boei Keikaku No Taiko Ni Tsuite” [About the Post-2011 NDPG], 17 December 2010, http://www.mod.go.jp/j/approach/agenda/guideline/2011/taikou.html.

Ibid.

Ministry of Defense (Japan), “National Defense Program Guidelines for FY 2014 and Beyond (Summary),” 17 December 2013, http://www.mod.go.jp/j/approach/agenda/guideline/2014/pdf/20131217_e.pdf.

“Japan calls for China to explain aircraft carrier,” AFP, 12 August 2011; “Address by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda at the 2011 Air Review,” 16 October 2011, http://www.kantei.go.jp/foreign/noda/statement/201110/16kunji_e.html.

Martin Fackler, “Japan Aims to Revise Security Pact With U.S.,” New York Times, 9 November 2012.

“LDP candidates Take Tough Line against China,” Kyodo News, 18 September 2012.

Ministry of Defense (Japan), “Defense of Japan 2015,” 33–56, http://www.mod.go.jp/e/publ/w_paper/pdf/2015/DOJ2015_1-1-3_web.pdf.

Klingler-Vidra, “The Pragmatic ‘Little Red Dot’,” 67, 71–72.

Lee Hsien Loong, “Keynote Address” (presented at the IISS Shangri-la Dialogue, Singapore, 29 May 2015), https://www.iiss.org/en/events/shangri%20la%20dialogue/archive/shangri-la-dialogue-2015-862b/opening-remarks-and-keynote-address-6729/keynote-address-a51f.

Medeiros et al., Pacific Currents, 185–86.

Cai, “Hedging for Maximum Flexibility,” 3.

Medeiros et al., Pacific Currents, 185–86; Klingler-Vidra, “Pragmatic ‘Little Red Dot’,” 67, 70–72; Cai, “Hedging for Maximum Flexibility.”

Medeiros et al., Pacific Currents, 185–86.

Simon Denyer, “China's Assertiveness Pushes Vietnam toward an Old Foe, the United States” Washington Post, 28 December 2015.

Moss, “Vietnam Adds Military Muscle.”

Hiebert and Nguyen, “Vietnam Ramps Up Defense Spending.”

Greg Torode, “Vietnam Buys Submarine-Launched Land Attack Missiles to Deter China,” Reuters, 30 April 2015.

Kristine Kwok, “Japan, Vietnam Criticize China,”; “Vietnam Edges Closer to Old US Foe as Maritime Dispute with China Heats Up,” South China Morning Post, 30 May 2014.

Trung Nguyen, “In Vietnam, Calls for US-Led Naval Initiative in South China Sea.” VoA, 9 March 2016. http://www.voanews.com/content/calls-naval-initiative-south-china-sea-support-vietnam/3227908.html.

Orendain, “Philippines, Vietnam Affirm United Front on S. China Sea.”

For related arguments, see Evelyn Goh, “Great Powers and Hierarchical Order in Southeast Asia: Analyzing Regional Security Strategies,” International Security 32, No. 3 (Winter 2007/2008): 113–57; Darren J. Lim, and Zack Cooper, “Reassessing Hedging: The Logic of Alignment in East Asia,” Security Studies 24, no. 4 (October–December 2015): 696–727; Adam P. Liff and G. John Ikenberry, “Racing toward Tragedy?: China's Rise, Military Competition in the Asia Pacific, and the Security Dilemma,” International Security 39, no. 2 (Fall 2014): 52–91.

An authoritative PLA textbook claims Japan's recent policies are aimed at “active containment” (zhudong ezhi). See Zhanluexue [The Science of Military Strategy] (Beijing: AMS Press, 2013), 62. See also Guojia Anquan Lanpishu [Blue Book on National Security] (Beijing: Social Sciences Academic Press, 2014), 1–2.

Liff and Ikenberry, “Racing toward Tragedy?”

Adam P. Liff

Pages 420-459 | Published online: 08 Jul 2016